Wheat Yield Evaporating Each Day Without Rain, Jeff Edwards SaysFri, 09 May 2014 15:40:10 CDT
Rains across southwestern, central and eastern Oklahoma over the last few days have been a welcome relief, but they didn't fall where they were needed the most. That's according to Dr. Jeff Edwards, Oklahoma State University Extension Wheat Specialist. He spoke Friday at the spring crop field day at the Lahoma Research Station. (You can catch Ron Hays's conversation with him by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)
Unlike the crop in other areas of the state, the variety test plots at Lahoma looked surprisingly good, Edwards said. With some rainfall in the next two or three days, the crop in the area could make as many as 40 or 50 bushels per acre he said.
"We are an exception to the rule in how our wheat looks here. In the state as a whole, it's pretty tough going."
He said the rains that fell in the last few days, unfortunately, fell in areas where the wheat crop is largely gone. We still need some rain desperately here in north central Oklahoma where we still have some potential to fill out some grains to save our test weights and still make some wheat."
With potential yields dropping by the day, Edwards says seed wheat may be in tight supply for next fall. "But we've been in this situation before and there will be enough to go around. My prediction is that folks that have been a good customer and have a really good working relationship with a certified seed producer are going to have plenty of seed and will probably be able to get the varieties that they want."
He said others may have a difficulty in getting precisely the varieties they want, but the key to improving those odds is to begin talking to seed dealers now.
Edwards's test plots are showing both freeze and drought damage and he said lodging is now becoming a problem in north central Oklahoma.
"That's a carryover from the freeze event that we had where it injured the stem. And once we start getting a little bit of weight in that grain head, it's top-heavy and it goes ahead and falls over. So, that April 15th freeze is still coming back to get us."
This crop is also significantly shorter than average with some plants standing only eight to ten inches tall. Edwards said that is an after-effect of the drought. With a shorter flag leaf as well, he said those plants can't get as much energy into grain production as taller plants can and that in turn negatively impacts yields.
Edwards said farmers should be especially attuned to practicing water conservation this year. He said they should pay close attention to any volunteer wheat or vegetation which could compete for scarce water supplies.
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