Oklahoma Wheat Crop Finds Late Season StrengthTue, 19 May 2015 16:38:27 CDT
Oklahoma wheat farmers are crossing their fingers that Mother Nature will keep the damaging hail and tornadoes to a minimum as harvest nears. Oklahoma is on track to produce a crop twice as large as a year ago. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged the crop at 118.9 million bushels on 4.1 million harvested acres with an average yield of 29.9 bushels per acre. Oklahoma Wheat Commission Executive Director Mike Schulte thinks the yield projection might be a little high, but he agrees with the harvested acres figure, as he hasnít seen a lot of hay put down or wheat grazed out around the state.
Southern Oklahoma continues to be the bright spot of the state. Timely rains have brought the crop along and farmers will have their best crop in several years. Meanwhile, the northwest part of the state has struggled from drought stress and a late season freeze on Good Friday. Schulte said surprisingly this crop has shown a lot of recovery from the spring rains and cooler temperatures.
ďItís amazing what the rain was able to do on that drought stressed wheat that also had freeze damage,Ē Schulte said. ďIn many places where we had written off the crop completely, the crop has retillered back out."
While the wheat has small heads, Schulte believes the crop has the potential to produce 15 to 20 bushels an acre and some places could average as high as 35 to 40 bushels an acre. Thatís a big improvement over what the region had looked like a month and half ago.
Overall, the Oklahoma wheat crop looks enormously better than a year ago when the state produced about half a crop at 49 million bushels. While the spring rains have been a blessing, this has also allowed for the development of foliar diseases. This is something Oklahoma farmers havenít had to deal with for the last five years during the ongoing drought. This springís cool, wet conditions created an ideal environment for stripe and leaf rust. Schulte believes in many cases farmers were able to apply a fungicide in a timely manner in the southern and central parts of the state when rust has been the most prevalent.
As harvest nears, Schulte is beginning to evaluate the crop for milling traits like protein quality. As he has driven around the state he hasnít seen a lot of nitrogen deficient fields. Part of that can be attributed to last yearís dismal crop, so he is hoping protein wonít be an issue like previous years. Protein levels are often induced by weather stress, he said that should bode well for the crop in the north and central part of the state. With this cool, wet spring weather, he said that has been ideal grain fill weather.
Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays caught up with Mike Schulte. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.
Schulte will join Hays early Saturday morning on KWTV News9 for the "In the Field" segment that is seen in the News9 morning news block- it will air around 6:40 AM.
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