October rains bring hope for winter wheat grazing

This is a map of the precipitation received between Oct. 24 and Oct. 31. (Photo courtesy Weather Underground.)

Although the drought monitor was looking scary a week ago, several rainy days in the High Plains could be the catalyst for continued fall planting and rapid winter wheat growth for grazing. Widespread showers began on Oct. 24 and the moisture continued to fall sporadically across wheat country for several days—with some areas accumulating between .5 and 16 inches, according to Weather Underground.

States such as Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas received the majority of the moisture in the storm system. The rainfall is a welcome change to the dry conditions that have plagued the High Plains for months and farmers are hopeful this moisture indicates an El Niña cycle taking effect.

According to the Oklahoma Mesonet, in October alone, areas such as Ardmore, Durant and Pauls Valley, Oklahoma received over nine inches of rainfall and most areas in the state have already surpassed 2022’s rainfall totals with two months left in the 2023 calendar year.

Wheat planting progress is varied across the High Plains due to previously dry conditions. Some farmers dusted in their seed, while others decided to wait for the predicted rainfall. Many farmers and ranchers are planning on wheat pasture availability for stockers this winter and this rain event should give the fields the moisture profile needed to provide adequate winter forage.

Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1892 or [email protected].