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Agricultural News

OSU Wheat Specialist Jeff Edwards Finds Rain Boosting Oklahoma Wheat Crop In a Big Way

Thu, 14 May 2015 19:39:13 CDT

OSU Wheat Specialist Jeff Edwards Finds Rain Boosting Oklahoma Wheat Crop In a Big Way The Oklahoma wheat crop continues to look better down the home stretch. Earlier this spring it was hard to tell how much the crop was hurt by the drought. Now it's hard to tell how much the spring rains have helped boost yields in recent weeks. Oklahoma State University Extension Wheat Specialist Dr. Jeff Edwards said he was bearish in estimating the crop at 100 million bushels a few weeks ago. Last week, the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association annual wheat tour estimated the crop at 108 million bushels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week projected the Oklahoma crop at over 118 million bushels.

"With the cool temperatures we've had, with the moisture we've received, I think we can hit that 118 million and come back closer to what we would consider a normal crop in Oklahoma around 120 million bushels," Edwards said.

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Edwards to talk about the 2015 wheat crop. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.

This year the wheat crop south of Interstate 40 has looked better than the crop north of the interstate. The southern region received rain earlier and continued to receive timely rainfall. He said while the crop has had better yields, the region has also faced more foliar disease, as south central Oklahoma has been ground zero for stripe rust.

The northern region considered the "wheat belt" of the state has suffered the most from the ongoing drought. Edwards said anything that was planted behind a summer crop really suffered. Even with this rain, he said the crop has struggled to regain yield potential. When the region received several days of warm temperatures in late February into March, he said the crop lost a lot of tillers and the crop has not been to bounce back.

The rains in April and May have been a huge blessing. Before the rain, Edwards had estimated a lot of the crop would average ten to 15 bushels per acre. After receiving some rain a few weeks ago, he boosted his projection to 20 to 30 bushels an acre. With the cool temperatures combined with the moisture recently, he thinks a lot of that wheat will now yield 30 to 40 bushels per acre. If the rain came earlier in February, Edwards believes the yields could have been even larger averaging 60 to 70 bushels an acre.

The cool wet conditions have brought on concerns of stripe rust this year, something Oklahoma farmers haven't been too worried about in recent years. Edwards is finding how susceptible varieties are to rust and that has made a big difference in the impact of the diease. He said varieties such as Everest, Ruby Lee and Garrison that are not resistant to stripe rust have been hit very hard. While varieties that are resistant to stripe rust like Billings and Gallagher have held up well.

Leaf rust is starting to show up in Oklahoma. Edwards looks for leaf rust to come on strong at harvest approaches. He said leaf rust can have some impact on yield, but it's too late for farmers to apply a fungicide. The later leaf rust comes in, the less impact it will have on yield.

In the final weeks before harvest, Edwards recommends farmers continue to scout and monitor the wheat for insect pressure.   He said farmers should also be making notes about the crop, such as the extent of disease pressure. Those observations will help farmers plan for next year in possible changing to more disease resistant varieties or being prepared to spray a fungicide.

In evaluating OSU's wheat variety trials across the state, Edwards said he is excited to see how well different varieties have held up to foliar disease like Billings and Gallagher.   He is impressed by the yield potential of Iba and Ruby Lee, if treated with a fungicide. Overall, he is very optimistic about new experimental lines in the pipeline.

"I am excited about the varieties that we have, but I get really excited whenever I look at what we have in the pipeline and the potential for varieties that might be released this year or one or two years down the road," Anderson said.

With all this moisture, wheat harvest will a little later than the last few years. Edwards predicts wheat harvest will get started in early June and it will likely be the second week of June when harvest gets fully underway.

Jeff Edwards will be joining Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays for the weekly "In The Field" report on KWTV News 9 in the Oklahoma City market on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.



Ron Hays interviews Jeff Edwards of OSU
right-click to download mp3


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