The 2012 HRW wheat harvest will reach the Blacklands/Hill Country (south of Dallas) next week. Wheat development is some 2 to 3 weeks ahead of normal for most areas of the central and southern Great Plains. The 2012 wheat crop has already been an amazing one (not unlike about any year). The crop year started with the effects of the 2011 drought defining how the crop was planted in most areas of west Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Most producers “dusted in” the seed (with the exception of some areas of north central Oklahoma, north Texas, central Kansas, Colorado and northward) with a hope there would eventually be enough moisture to get the crop up and develop some type of a root system that would sustain the plant through the winter.
Because of the drought the soil profile had been depleted from 2’ on down in many areas (again, the exceptions of the above areas). Uncharacteristic rains in late October into November provided what most areas of the needed to germinate the seed and establish an initial root system and tillers (stems). La Nina patterns have historically proven the Great Plains will have above average temperatures over the winter months, this year was no exception. This coupled with timely moisture since October/November has allowed many wheat producers to take advantage of the forage that was produced for grazing. Anecdotal reports have been cattle gaining over 3# per day in many areas and producers having to pull cattle off early because the size of those going to the feedlot. The concern of the warmer temperatures on the crop however, has been plants developing much earlier than normal.
While most in our industry have seen early crops in our career, this one is unusual that it is because of a very warm winter (as much high night time temps as daytime highs) not drought related. The quality attributes will be interesting to assess over the coming weeks.
Download a PDF of this harvest summary.