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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Wheat Industry "Cautiously Optimistic" about Weather Outlook

Thu, 10 Sep 2015 18:08:27 CDT

Oklahoma Wheat Industry Every crop year for the past decade has been a challenge. While the average may not look too bad, Oklahoma's wheat farmers have had to deal with a lot of extremes. As farmers begin planting their hard red winter wheat crop, they have to wonder what Mother Nature will deal next. Oklahoma Genetics, Inc. Executive Director Mark Hodges remains cautiously optimistic about the 2016 crop. After several years of drought, moisture looks to return to the forecast with the likelihood of a strong El Nino, which would bring Oklahoma above average precipitation into the spring.

Oklahoma's farmers are starting to plant their wheat crop that will be harvested in 2016. Oklahoma has a unique opportunity, as a large number of producers will plant wheat for grazing, while others grow the crop strictly for grain production. In planting wheat for grazing, farmers plant the crop in September. In growing a crop for grain production only, the ideal planting time starts after October 15th. In planting a crop earlier, Hodges said the wheat crop will face additional pressure from disease and insects. With wild fluctuations in weather, he said farmers will have to increase their management by being more vigilant in scouting for diseases and being more diligent in applying fungicides in the spring.

As farmers head to their field, several Oklahoma State University developed varieties sold through Oklahoma Genetics Inc. have been in high demand. Hodges said the most popular are Gallagher, Iba, Ruby Lee and the two-gene Clearfield wheat Doublestop. He said this year they ran out of Doublestop and there is very little Gallagher left. Radio Oklahoma Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Hodges about the planting outlook. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to hear the full interview with Mark Hodges.

Earlier this summer, OSU announced Bentley was the newest variety to be released. Hodges said there's nothing average about Bentley, as it has outstanding yield for a grain-only production system, it has outstanding production in grain plus grazing situation and it has outstanding milling and baking qualities. Bentley was developed for central Oklahoma and it has moderate resistance to acid soils. It has a late first hollow stem, which gives producers more time for grazing, but it has a medium heading date, so harvest can take place on time. Hodges said the only average characteristic is Bentley's test weight, but Bentley's yielding potential has more than made up for the lower test weight. Currently there are 8,000 bushels of Bentley seed, but Hodges said it will take some time to build up supplies before Bentley seed will be sold to the general public.

The success of Oklahoma Genetics Inc. has steadily increased since being established in 2005. Hodges said Oklahoma Genetics Inc. was initially started as a means to get BASF's Clearfield wheat varieties into production. At the same time, state and federal budgets started to decline and there was also concern over funding to the public wheat breeding program. Support for OGI has steadily grown, even in times of drought. OGI has seen support from Oklahoma farmers and surrounding states. Hodges said about 30 percent of the OGI sales are out-of-state with 20 percent sold into the southern half of Kansas and 10 percent sold into Texas. This past year, $539,000 in royalties went back to Oklahoma State University. Hodges gives all the credit to OSU wheat breeder Dr. Brett Carver and the entire Wheat Improvement Team.

We will be visiting more with Mark Hodges Saturday morning during our In the Field segment that will be seen on KWTV News9 in Oklahoma City- at about 6:40 AM as a part of their Saturday morning news block.

Ron Hays interviews Mark Hodges of Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.
right-click to download mp3


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