Mark Hodges Offers 2015 Wheat Crop UpdateFri, 14 Nov 2014 17:31:22 CST
Oklahoma had a disastrous year for wheat in 2014. While farmers had excellent quality, yields were down to record low levels due to ongoing drought. Plains Grain Executive Director Mark Hodges said 2014 was a unprecedented year.
"It's obviously the worst crop in my lifetime and I think if could probably talk to any farmer who is alive today, they would tell you its probably the worst they have ever seen as well," Hodges said. "You get under 50 million bushels in Oklahoma and that's an extremely bad obviously wheat crop."
The outcome was hard to take considering the crop got off to a decent start in the fall of 2013. Hodges said the crop had a good root system under the crop, good tillering and some soil moisture in the profile. Through the winter and spring little to no moisture fell. By the spring time a lot of acres were declared disaster and were zeroed out by crop insurance adjusters. In May Oklahoma began to receive rain events and that determined how much of the wheat crop was harvested. There was also a large amount that was seeded into another crop like sorghum, corn or soybeans. Many of those crops were not harvested in time for wheat planting. Hodges said that has reduced the number of acres planted to wheat this fall.
With some fall precipitation, the wheat crop is off to a better start than a year ago. Hodges said the crop is ahead of the five year average with emergence and plant development. The 2015 wheat crop though some what resembling last year's crop in having a good root system and tillering. Hodges believes this crop is better than a year ago in having more soil moisture and development, but how this crop turns out will be determined by mother nature.
"As last year was a testament to, unless we continue to get timely moisture especially when we break dormancy in the spring, if we can continue to get timely moisture we have a start on a pretty good wheat crop," Hodges said. "But on the other hand like last year, if we don't get that moisture we're going to be in trouble."
Hodges also serves as the Executive Director of Oklahoma Genetics Inc. In providing seed for planting the wheat crop this fall the biggest challenge has been logistics. He said there was plenty of seed available, but there were challenges into getting all of the varieties to farmers in time for planting. If you look at the varieties that were planted this year, Hodges said he anticipates the number of acres with Gallagher, Iba and Ruby Lee will be down slightly and he looks for increase in the number of acres planted to older OSU varieties like Billings and Garrison than in the past.
"I think its a matter of logistics - that's what those guys in those specific areas had availability of," Hodges said. "So instead of trying of getting a Gallagher, Iba or Ruby Lee, they just went ahead and either purchased or planted what they had availability of."
For OGI there will be some new wheat varieties released in the near future. Oklahoma State University Wheat Breeder Dr. Brett Carver is working on some new soft red and soft white wheat varieties. Most of the soft wheat is grown east of the Mississippi River as a rotational crop. Hodges said this offers Oklahoma farmers a tremendous opportunity to sell wheat into foreign markets.
"We have an opportunity, because of where we are located to focus on that quality," Hodges said. "...We've already got customers that are seeking higher protein soft wheats going into Latin America. We've got opportunities in eastern Oklahoma, north Texas, Arkansas. There is a lot of area that we could get into from a quality and marketing standpoint."
OGI has also picked up a wheat, rye, triticale, and oat variety from the Noble Foundation. All four are forage type varieties for grazing. Hodges said they are excited to be working with the Noble Foundation to market those new varieties.
Coming up this weekend on the In The Field segment, Mark Hodges of Plains Grain will join Ron Hays in studio to talk about this year's wheat crop. Our In the Field segment will be seen at 6:40 AM Saturday morning on KWTV, News9 in the Oklahoma City area- we will have it online on our website later in the weekend.
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