Hail, winds destroy some Panhandle wheat By Jessica Domel News Editor It started out as a terriﬁc wheat crop. Early season moisture meant good growth and hopes for high yields, but it ended in disaster for Moore County farmer Darren Stallwitz. “It started off looking pretty de-cent. We were getting some mois-ture, a little bit of moisture, and our wheat was starting to look pret-ty good until the other night when we got a hailstorm,” Stallwitz said. “We got some nice rain with it, but there was lots and lots of hail.” Pea-sized hail and high winds took out Stallwitz’s crop–shearing the wheat stalks on about 1,300 acres of wheat within a nine-mile area. “With small hail, there’s so much more hail. When you get the bigger hailstones that damage roofs, nor-mally egg-sized or baseball-sized hail, there’s not as many of those hailstones. You get a lot of damage on a crop, but here where we have the wind and the small hail, it just whips through and it cut the crop in two,” Stallwitz said. The crop could have made 25-35 bushels per acre, Stallwitz esti-mates, in an area where 15 bushels or less has become average due to drought. “I had high hopes that it was go-ing to do pretty well,” Stallwitz said. The last few years have been challenging for Panhandle wheat farmers like Stallwitz. Last year, the Dumas area received so much 24 J UNE 3 , 2016 rain harvest was delayed. Some wheat began to sprout in the head. The two years before that were not any better. In 2011, the area was so dry, Stallwitz didn’t cut any wheat. The following year, 2012, was similar. This year’s crop would have been Stallwitz’s best since 2010. “It’s pretty tough. We realize it can happen. It’s the chance we take,” Stallwitz said. “A lot of people like to go to Vegas and gamble. I don’t do that. I’m gambling here on the farm to a degree. You just take the chance.” For years like these, Stallwitz is thankful for his crop, hail and multi-peril insurance. “That will kick in and help tre-mendously. I tell people I don’t farm for the insurance check. I farm to plant a crop, to raise a crop and to cut a crop,” Stallwitz said. “It’s very hard to see it fall apart like this.” In addition to irrigated and dry-land wheat, Stallwitz also grows corn and irrigated and dryland grain sorghum. He also has some cattle, which may be able to graze on the now-destroyed wheat. “We could put some cattle on it, but there’s not a whole lot of green. I will probably leave it for next year and plant dryland sorghum here,” Stallwitz said. “I have a wheat, dry-land sorghum and fallow rotation. I really want to keep that rotation go-ing, so that is probably what I will do in one particular ﬁeld. I’m not sure I’ll do that on every ﬁeld that was damaged.” Stallwitz wasn’t the only farmer affected by recent storms. Some farmers east of Dumas lost their sprinklers due to high winds. Winds and hail also sheared leaves off some corn in the Jarrell area in Central Texas. Low-lying ﬁelds remained wet for days follow-ing rainstorms, which is affecting some corn and wheat. Wheat harvest and cotton plant-ing are delayed in some areas of North Texas due to recent rains. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension re-ports corn and grain sorghum there are also showing signs of too much water. Rivers ﬂooding in the Coastal Bend area created very poor corn and cotton conditions, according to AgriLife. Some farmers were reportedly deciding whether they should replant with early maturing cotton or soybeans or not at all. Some areas of South Texas are also feeling the effects of spring storms. Wheat and peanut harvest in Atascosa County was delayed due to rainfall. Elsewhere in South Texas, the rain helped improve pas-ture conditions while a lack of rain for some meant continued ability to bale hay and other forages. AgriLife reports conditions re-mained dry near Zapata County, which kept farmers busy irrigating corn, sorghum, cotton, melons and sunﬂowers. To help its farm, ranch and con-sumer members, Texas Farm Bu-reau now offers up-to-date weather and market information from Agri-Charts on its website, www.Tex-asFarmBureau.org. Simply click “Markets and Weather” under the media tab on the top of the page.