Rick Kochenower Reflects on Past Year's Production in Panhandle, Looks to Year AheadThu, 13 Dec 2012 16:26:43 CST
Though the Panhandle has been experiencing drought conditions over the past two seasons, OSU Agronomist Rick Kochenower says producers in his area of the state have had some surprises. He says some producers did very well with their irrigated acres, while the dry land crops did not perform very well. So, how are things shaping up for 2013? Kochenower recently spoke with Oklahoma Farm Report’s Ron Hays about conditions in the Panhandle, the third part in a three-part series on crop conditions across Oklahoma.
“Actually, the wheat looks good, surprisingly. Like the rest of the state, we could use a rain, but most of our wheat was planted in the first three weeks of October, about when it should be for optimum grain production. And we had a little bit of profile underneath it. So it actually looks really good. It probably looks as good as it has in four or five years, to be quite honest.”
Kochenower says last year’s spring crops, especially in dry land areas, did not do as well as producers had hoped.
“Dry land crops were below average, probably. We did cut some sorghum in the Panhandle this year even though we were in the middle of a drought. I had one producer who had five or six hundred acres that made 50 bushels and some other ones that cut 25 to 30 bushel sorghum. It was actually pretty decent.
“Now, for irrigated crops, they were outstanding for guys who had good water. For the guys who had 550- to 600-gallon-a-minute wells or better, there were some 250- and 260-bushel corn out there cut this year.”
Kochenower says some producers are beginning to make preparations for spring planting even though they’re a long way from putting seed in the ground. He says producers th sufficient irrigation are starting to strip till now and will begin to pre-water in February and March for a corn crop. Kansas and Texas farmers who are operating under different water laws may be leaning toward limited-irrigation sorghum, he says.
Oklahoma producers with limited wells are also starting to seriously consider grain sorghum. He says the numbers are working in their favor.
“I’m not an economist but I do simple agronomy math, but I can make more money on an inch of water raising 140- or 50-bushel sorghum than I can raising 16- or 70 bushel corn. So that’s making guys look and think about it.”
Sorghum trials have been spotty over the last couple of years, he says, due to the variable and dry weather conditions.
Kochenower says his sorghum trials last year were better than the year before because of a little cooler weather. Where he didn’t cut a single trial in 2011 due to the heat and drought, he was able to cut all his test plots except one in 2012.
“For most of the state, yields were in that 35- to 50-bushel range.” He says test weights were on the lighter side due to a lack of moisture during the grain fill stage in July.
Because of the dry weather the past couple of seasons, Kochenower says established producers are leaning more and more in the direction of sorghum and away from corn for the 2013 season. He says newer producers are finding it a little more difficult to work into their rotations because they don’t have a yield history for crop insurance.
You can read Part 1 of the series by clicking here. Part 2 is available by clicking here.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below for Ron Hays’s full conversation with Rick Kochenower.
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