Oklahoma Wheat Crop Looking Good, Marketing Efforts Continue Apace, Schulte SaysThu, 13 Feb 2014 12:33:18 CST
For the first time in a couple of years, Oklahoma is experiencing a real winter with frigid temperatures and winter precipitation. The wheat crop is dormant across much of the state, and Mike Schulte of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission tells Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays that gives producers a chance to assess the crop and their management of it so far. (You can listen to their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story. Schulte will also appear on this Saturday's "In the Field" segment on News 9 about 6:40 a.m.)
"Producers this time of year generally have their nitrogen applications on for top dress and, if you go to southwestern Oklahoma and the Panhandle regions of the state, you hear a lot of producers haven't put those applications on yet just because of the last ten days. There have been colder temperatures. They were going to wait and see if they had moisture coming in. And, in the northwestern part of the state, there have been instances where they've been covered in snow for the last week. That has slowed them down and hindered them on that process.
"I think, overall, if you look at state conditions, in the southwest and Panhandle regions of the state, no doubt we still need moisture in a lot of those areas, but if we do get rain and they do put the top dress down, we would have good prospects for a wheat crop right now."
Schulte says that conditions in central and north central Oklahoma look a lot better than they have in some time. He said the number of cattle on wheat pasture is larger than he has seen for some time and some producers are haying their herds heavily in order to maximize their potential for a good wheat crop.
Significantly warmer temperatures are in the forecast and Schulte says producers with cattle on wheat pasture need to be on the lookout for first hollow stem. He said a new tool at Mesonet.org will help producers more accurately predict that stage in their portion of the state.
"Any time you leave cattle out there after first hollow stem you're just dramatically decreasing that opportunity for bushels in the field," Schulte says. "A lot of times, maybe, producers will leave them out there a little longer than they should and if we do get the right type of moisture and allow for growth, over a two week period afterwords, sometimes you cannot hurt the field or crop so much. But it's just a good rule of thumb that if you start seeing that in your field, you need to pull the cattle off."
The marketing of the 2013 crop has gone very well, Schulte says. The quality was very high and was exactly what was needed for markets in Mexico and South America.
"We had the right protein levels that we wanted. In fact, they were higher than normal protein levels in a lot of instances and a lot of our bakers were excited about the low volume potentials and were going to allow for them. We did have some milling issues just because kernel size was little bit smaller, but, overall, it has been a great marketing opportunity for this crop year."
Schulte says marketing prospects for 2014 are excellent, especially since the farm bill is now in place. He said increased market opportunities exist in Mexico and South America and that will help offset increased competition from Russia and Ukraine in the Middle Eastern markets. He said they are trying to put together trade delegations with millers from Mexico and Ecuador to help show them how blends of hard red winter wheat and Canadian soft wheat can lower their costs and reduce their needs for costly additives.
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