Farmers in many parts of Texas are taking advantage of warm weather and plentiful cool-season grass growth to begin replenishing depleted hay supplies, say Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

The warm weather is pushing maturity of warm-season grasses, too, reports Rick Maxwell, AgriLife Extension agent for Collin County, northeast of Dallas. Growers may be able to start haying bermudagrass a couple of weeks early, he says.

But Maxwell says most producers wish they had enough cattle to take advantage of the greatly improved grazing. Many were forced to drastically reduce cattle herds or sell out completely during last year's drought.

“It’s going to be really difficult to buy back in (the cattle market) because of the short supply. The demand is there, which means prices are high. It probably will be this way for quite some time.”

Extension agents from other parts of the state had similar reports.

“The winter wheat crop is growing as if it is being irrigated,” says Rick Auckerman, AgriLife Extension agent for Deaf Smith County, west of Amarillo. “A large majority of the wheat crop this year is going for silage or hay, with little going to grain, with the exception of the seed wheat going to the various seed men in the area.”

In other areas, where warm-season grasses are growing and need fertilizer, the outlook isn’t so rosy.

“Nitrogen fertilizer prices are going through the roof,” says Clint Perkins, AgriLife Extension agent for Wood County, about 100 miles east of Dallas. “Urea is pushing $800 per ton and ammonium nitrate is in very short supply. Hay producers are very worried.”

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force Web site.