What’s being billed in the Panhandle as the worst winter storm in 10 years might have been bad for drivers, but it was nothing but good news for wheat growers, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“Our wheat crop was getting very dry; we’ve been dry for about the last three months,” said Dr. Brent Bean, AgriLife Extension agronomist based at Amarillo.
The blizzard brought from 10 to 12 inches of snow in some areas, Bean said, which translates to about 2 inches of moisture. Some parts of the Panhandle didn’t get as much snow, but got some rain beforehand.
But moisture in any form this time of the year is a good thing, he said.
“The moisture should really help the wheat crop get going,” Bean said. “It’s going to be breaking dormancy in about a month.”
Bean noted that in a few weeks, the immature head of the wheat will start developing, and the moisture at that time is critical for future development. Also, the snow and rain will raise soil moisture levels, which will be needed when spring planting starts around the first of April.
“We always like a good snow,” Bean said.
The low temperatures and wet conditions stressed livestock, but having been given ample warning of the impending storm, most producers had stocked up on feed, and losses were minimal, according to AgriLife Extension reports.
"Roads, schools and most scheduled events were canceled and basically shut everything down for two days during what weather forecasters are calling the worst winter storm in 10 years,” said J.D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agent in Randall County, south of Amarillo. “In some cases electricity was off for several hours with cattle escaping electric fencing and scattering for several miles. Some cattle death losses took place also but not to any significant numbers.”