Rainfall good for local wheat crop

William Thompson

The Quay County area has received above average rainfall this year, especially this fall. Wheat farmers are happy, but they still want more rain this winter and next spring.

David and Jerri Rush have a moderate-sized wheat operation south of Ragland. Jerri Rush said they are grateful for the recent rains. “We just said, ‘Thank the Lord,’ said Jerri Rush. “Our cattle will have good forage wheat this winter. The rain has helped our crop and if we get more rain in the spring we should have a really good wheat crop.”

Large wheat operations in Quay County can double as cattle ranches during winter. Pete Walden, County Extension agent, said the cattle contribute to the growth of wheat crops. “Farmers graze their cattle on the wheat crops during the winter,” he said. “In the spring the farmers pull the cattle off the wheat. The seed is then allowed to mature and grow until harvest time.”

Leonard Lariault, forage agronomist at the NMSU AG Science Center, said wheat farmers are obviously pleased with the rain, but he would like to see heavy rainfall this winter north of the Canadian River. “In Quay County, we have had rainfall of three inches above normal in 2004,” said Lariault. “Hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean may have had something to do with the extra rainfall. North of here, there has been just average rainfall. The ground there still soaks up rain like a sponge. It’s not saturated like the ground here in Quay County. We need the ground up in northern New Mexico to become saturated like it is here.”

Walden said the long-time drought could be easing, but it is too soon to tell if the end is near. These rains have helped the drought situation,” said Walden. “If we were to have another year like this one, then the drought would probably be over. The rain we have had this year is unusual, however, and to get another year of rain like this next year would be very unusual.”