Oklahoma Wheat Farmers Race the Pig Weeds to Finish the 2014 Harvest SeasonThu, 03 Jul 2014 12:14:49 CDT
The 2014 wheat harvest is in its final stages across Oklahoma- and wheat farmers have struggled with historically low yields and a wet June which has crushed quality expectations of the half crop that has been harvested. Oklahoma State University Wheat Extension Specialist Dr. Jeff Edwards says before the rains started in mid-May into June, many farmers had a decent quality wheat crop- albeit a short crop on the number of bushels.
"When harvest first started rolling we were cranking out test weights anywhere from 60 to upwards of 64 pounds per bushel, which is great," Edwards said. "Those numbers backed off slightly, but most of the test weight numbers have been in the upper 50's."
"Especially with the heat and drought we've had that was a pleasant surprise, just wish we had more bushels," he said.
Some of the best yielding wheat in the state was in north central Oklahoma, but recent rains made harvest difficult. Edwards says that prevented harvest on a lot of acres due to having a thin crop and there are a lot of summer weeds like Pig Weed that are coming through the canopy, which is presenting problems with harvest.
At best, Oklahoma is looking at producing about half of a normal crop.
"The latest forecast was at 59.4 million bushels," Edwards said. "Recently they downgraded harvest acres slightly, so we might struggle to make that 59.4 million, so its just been a rough year and I think everyone will be glad to put it behind us and hope for a better year next year."
In overseeing the Oklahoma State Wheat Variety Trial, Edwards has gotten to see how this year's heat and lack of moisture has impacted varieties. Specifically, at Chickasha and Lahoma received slightly over seven inches of rainfall and the crop still averaged 43 bushels per acre.
"That's a testament to how much of impact that stored soil moisture had for this crop," Edwards said.
One of his graduate students had an irrigated field of Iba at Stillwater that averaged 113 bushels per acre. The non-irrigated plots averaged 51 bushels per acre.
"That tells us what an impact that Mother Nature had on us this year," Edwards said. "It basically took 62 bushels per acre off of our yield and our environment and that has really stuck out."
Despite the drought, Edwards was amazed how much forage was available in pockets across the state. Even in areas that received a few rain fall, the crop was still making a ton or little over ton of forage per acre with the better varieties. He says that helped balance out the grain production by making a little more forage. .
In looking back at a year like this, Edwards says it emphasizes the need to conserve and save the stored soil moisture by controlling weeds this summer and limiting our tillage. With the prevalence of wheat streak mosaic virus in areas to the south, he says it will important to control volunteer grass atleast two weeks prior to planting.
Oklahoma State University has published the results the this year's variety trails online. Edwards recommends farmers not make any major changes based on this year alone. To review all of the results from the 2014 Variety trials, click here.
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