“In addition, you have the added risk of hail damage from waiting to harvest grain that you wouldn’t have from baling it now,” he said. “Of course, every situation is different, so producers need to use a sharp pencil in determining which option works best for them.”

Additionally, Trostle said if the wheat is irrigated, “then you are still irrigating potentially a few inches, so continuing to grain doesn’t stop the expenses on the crop the way haying would.”

Redmon said the more mature wheat that has started heading out may not be as high quality as the younger wheat, but it will still make hay that can be more valuable this year than others due to the continuing drought.

“Once it starts to flower, wheat moves the nutrients from the leaves to the grain and out of the leaves.

So around here, where grain is already developing, the crude protein on the hay would be around 8 to 10 percent,” Redmon said. “But if it hasn’t headed out, it would be closer to 12 to 14 percent.

“That could be a valuable hay crop,” he said. “They can either store it or sell it to someone and make money on it.”

Redmon said making hay now might be insurance of sorts against the forecast for prolonged drought. The current hay situation is starting off a little behind, due to dry, cool weather.

“Our warm-season grasses are two to three weeks behind. So the hay situation now doesn’t look good, but if we get rain, it will improve,” he said. “East Texas and Northeast Texas are considered abnormally dry now and that’s where they could cut some good hay. Central Texas is dry; we are under extreme drought. The Coastal Bend region, where they cut a lot of hay, is in severe to extreme drought.

“Right now there is not a whole lot of hay to be cut, although there will be some cut,” Redmon said. “If they can make hay, they better make some, because it may be the only cutting they get unless conditions change.”

As of last week, 92 percent of the state was under drought, he said. The forecast shows that northeast Texas is supposed to improve, but in the western three-quarters of the state, the drought is supposed to intensify, “so they could sell hay all over the place.”

Redmon said wheat hay won’t go to dairy or horse markets, but in the market aimed at stocker cattle and beef cows, “the freight alone would make it a better buy than bringing in something from Nebraska or wherever, like they had to in the past few years. There’s a ready market for that.”

For further information on assessing wheat freeze injury as well as continuing crop updates, access http://wheatfreezeinjury.tamu.edu.

 

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