No Surprise- Wheat Crop Needs Rain StatewideSun, 27 Apr 2014 06:57:25 CDT
It's been about ten days now since a late freeze hit the state of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University Wheat Specialist Dr. Jeff Edwards said we are just now seeing evidence of damage to the wheat crop. He spoke with Oklahoma Farm Report's Ron Hays at the OSU Wheat Field Day event in Chickasha. (You can listen to their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)
"It's really unusual what we're seeing, though. It's the opposite of what we expected. Normally when we have a freeze event like that we expect the wheat that is the farthest along to be hit the hardest. But what we are seeing is that wheat that was in the boot or just poking out the top of the boot at the time of that freeze event seems to have made it through it fairly well. The smaller wheat that had around two nodes or two joints at the time of the freeze really got hit hard. The other wheat that got hit hard would be the drought-stressed wheat and we have a lot of that in the state for sure this year."
Edwards said moisture tends to moderate temperatures down low to the ground and buffer the wheat against the cold, but in drought-stricken areas that did not happen. Also, a thick foliage canopy can provide additional protection, but the sparse canopy in drought-stricken areas left the plant with little protection. Edwards said there is little to no chance that fields hit by this double whammy can recover.
Statewide, the wheat crop needs rain. Edwards said that the best prospects for a decent crop if rain comes soon are in the Enid area. Had adequate rain fallen a month ago, Edwards said there was potential for yields of 70 bushels to the acre. If we get rain soon, he believes it still has the potential for 40 bushels to the acre. Without timely, repeated rains, it could fall as low as 20 or 30 bushels to the acre.
At this point, Edwards said he doesn't see how this year's crop in Oklahoma will bring in more than 100 million bushels. He said he also thought the same about last year's yield and was proven wrong.
"I hope I'm wrong again this year, but I just don't see how we can even get close to 100 million. I think we'll be well below 100 million bushels."
Edwards said for the crop that is zeroed out, there is still some potential for graze out in some areas.
After harvest, Edwards said, producers will need to be prepared to ride herd on volunteer wheat this year.
"We've seen a lot more wheat streak mosaic virus down state this year. That used to be just a Panhandle problem, but it's been downstate and that's because of the volunteer that we've had. So it's going to be important to keep an eye on that volunteer and keep it under control this summer."
One of the lessons producers can learn this year is the benefit of variety diversification, Edwards said. By using early-, middle- and late-maturing varieties producers can reduce the chances of a total crop loss from a late freeze event.
As to what's on the horizon, Edwards said the theoretical yield potential for some of the newer varieties of wheat is in the range of 180 to 190 bushels per acre. Limitations of environment, however, will reduce those yields.
"As we've seen in Oklahoma, sometimes that potential is closer to 50 bushels, but, in most of our locations, such as here at Chickasha, that limitation dictated by environment is 100 to 110 bushels per acre. So, anything below that we are limiting it by management- So, certainly, there are some ways we can improve our management and hopefully get our realized yields closer to that environmental potential."
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