Edwards Provides Cautious Outlook for WheatSun, 05 Oct 2014 16:06:04 CDT
Oklahoma farmers are moving forward with wheat planting despite on-going drought concerns. The US Drought Monitor reports 91 percent of the state has been given a drought designation. That is a increase of almost 10 points in the last week. Oklahoma State University Wheat Extension Specialist Dr. Jeff Edwards is surprised wheat planting is running ahead of normal with about 60 percent of the crop planted.
"It's still fairly dry out there and to see that much planted does surprise me a little bit," Edwards said. "I think its all driven by the cattle market. We're short on pasture and we're going need some place for those stocker cattle to move and wheat pasture is the obvious place to get them there."
Some of the wheat that was planted in early September is starting to come up and its looking decent as there was still some moisture in the soil profile. Edwards said if the state can continue to receive some moisture to keep the crop going for wheat pasture as well as for the grain-only crop that is just starting to be planted.
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Edwards about the outlook for the wheat crop. You can hear their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story
In recent years Oklahoma has been averaging about 5.2 million acres. If the state receives some timely rains in October, Edwards said he thinks wheat acres could increase to five and a half million acres to as high as 5.6 million acres.
After a dismal wheat crop in 2014, farmers are cautious in putting that kind of investment into a crop with the unpredictable weather. By taking a soil sample now Edwards believes farmers will find there is more available nitrogen and phosphorus out there than what might expect due to last year's failed crop. He believes there is likely enough fertility in the soil now to get the crop started, so farmers can delay fertilizing the crop. Next spring farmers can make an assessment as to how much more they want to invest in the crop based on the weather this fall and winter.
In managing this crop, Edwards emphasized the importance of monitoring weeds and insect pests. Edwards said pests like Army Root worms can devastate the crop. With weeds, he said this will require early control this fall when the weeds are still small and easy to kill before they can rob water, nitrogen or any other resources from the wheat crop.
Jeff Edwards will be our featured 'In The Field' guest this Saturday morning. Watch our interview on KWTV, News9 at 6:40 am Saturday morning.
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