The time to plant winter pasture and wheat is here for many Texas regions, but either a lack of moisture or a plenitude of armyworms is causing producers to hold off, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

“Tis the season to be planting winter pastures in preparation for winter feeding,” says Vanessa Corriher, AgriLife Extension forage specialist. “Unfortunately, we don't have adequate soil moisture, which makes it a challenge getting a successful stand.”

In East Texas, several factors have put hay in short supply, says Corriher.

“The hay crop is down because of a fairly dry summer,” she says. “Also, last year a lot of East Texas producers sold all their hay to South Texas during their extreme drought.”

For those who don't produce their own hay, the situation becomes even more dour, as there won't be much local surplus for them to buy, she says.

Winter pasture, usually either ryegrass or a legume mix, is generally overseeded into dormant warm-season grass pastures. Fertilization can be delayed until a successful stand emerges, but for a good stand, the seeding needs relatively high soil moisture levels at planting or a rain shortly after. And therein lies the problem: The East Texas fall is off to a dry start.

“Winter pasture is going to be pretty critical this year if we can actually get any planted,” Corriher says.

The hay situation in other parts of the state is better, according to AgriLife Extension agent reports. In South Texas, which had extreme hay shortages last year, hay supplies were reported as good and prices were stable.

In the Rolling Plains, soil moisture levels were good for planting wheat for winter grazing, but reports of armyworms have caused many producers to hold back planting until cooler weather slows the pest's activity.

In some Southeast counties, too much rain has kept producers out of fields and stalled hay harvesting.