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Agricultural News

Southern Plains Wheat Crop Off to a Good Start, Mark Hodges Says

Thu, 09 Jan 2014 12:32:30 CST

Southern Plains Wheat Crop Off to a Good Start, Mark Hodges Says
The 2014 wheat crop is off to a good start says Mark Hodges, executive director of Plains Grains. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network’s Ron Hays and says that is mostly due to the fact that producers in most areas got their crop planted with sufficient moisture and favorable weather conditions. (You can listen to their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story. Mark will also be Ron’s guest on this weekend’s “In the Field” segment on News 9 about 6:40 a.m. Saturday.)

“Of course, the worst drought areas were the Texas panhandle, the Oklahoma panhandle, western Kansas, eastern Colorado up into Nebraska and South Dakota. I think we really did get some good planting conditions in eastern Colorado. I was a little bit surprised as dry as they were, especially in southeastern Colorado. Western Kansas went in good. Nebraska’s gone in pretty good even in those really dry areas in the panhandle of Nebraska. They have some pretty good stands now… Compared to the last two years, we’re in really good shape.”

Frigid temperatures across much of the soft wheat belt in the Midwest may have caused some damage, but Hodges says snow and ice cover may have protected the crop and we won’t know the extent of damage until it breaks dormancy in the spring.

Planting and weather conditions across most of the Southern Plains were not so severe and Hodges says the potential is there for a very good 2014 harvest.

“What we’d like to see at this time of year is, of course, a good root system as deep as possible, definitely a good secondary root system on that plant. As much tillering as possible. Really, statewide, and into Texas and even up into Kansas, I think we’ve got that. Now, there are exceptions. If you look at the Drought Monitor, Jackson, Tillman, Greer and Harmon, those counties are still in a D-4 drought. And, as a matter of fact, there are still guys trying to plant wheat down there because they’ve had some mite problems and dry weather… Other than that area, really, we’re even in pretty good shape in the Panhandle which is kind of unusual based on the last two years.”

Hodges says the latest Crop Weather report shows the number of cattle on wheat pasture higher than expected across the state, but being as that is the first value-added product of a wheat crop, he said that is a good sign for Oklahoma producers.

Other than the mites in southern Oklahoma and some early reports of stripe rust in Kansas, Hodges says, “Really, disease and insect-wise, we’re in pretty good shape right now.”

Looking back at the marketability of the 2013 crop, Hodges says it was a “baker’s crop” across the Southern Plains.

“The baker’s going to be very happy with this crop. The protein average was 13 percent-outstanding. We don’t normally average anywhere close to 13 percent. We’re normally from 11.5 to, maybe, a little over 12. So, we were very, very pleased with the protein but not only the protein on that wide of an area but also the functionality. It really bakes a good loaf of bread.”

Hodges says that, so far, the prospects for the 2014 crop look very good with the plants currently sitting on good root systems with an adequate soil-moisture profile. He says that he agrees with Dr. Jeff Edwards of OSU that now is the time for top dressing to make sure the plants have adequate nitrogen available to maximize further tiller and root development when they break dormancy in the spring.


Ron Hays talks with Mark Hodges about the condition of the 2014 wheat crop.
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