Soybeans Compete Well Against Wheat- Even in Winter Wheat Belt Counties Like Kay County, OklahomaThu, 10 May 2018 13:28:38 CDT
Production of hard red winter wheat is under attack in Oklahoma- acres continue to decline- and two spring planted crops that are competing for acres are winning the war in parts of the state. In southwestern Oklahoma, the clear choice for many producers is cotton- and with Oklahoma producing a million bale cotton crop this past year for the first time since the 1930s- many farmers have been thinking hard about how to include cotton in their crop mix- not just in traditional areas for cotton production- but well north to the Kansas state line. That includes Kay County, where soybeans seem to generate even more interest. At the Wheat Plot Tour on Wednesday on the Don Schieber farm near Kildare- the wheat variety trial showed most varieties looking good- but the concept of "Freedom to Farm" manifested itself with the field that surrounded the wheat plots and the farmstead buildings of the Schieber farm showing soybeans just sprouted- having been planted about ten days earlier.
The picture above is of the OSU Wheat Variety Trial on the Don Schieber farm- the picture below shows the wheat plots with the dark soil around the plots just planted with soybeans- and the picture below that provides a reveal of the newly planted soybeans in the middle of Kay County- a county that when the 1996 Farm Law was put into place- offering farmers the right to switch crops without government penalty- was a county of continous wheat. Gradually over the years- that idea of having to plant wheat year after year has been replaced by farmers looking for the crop that will help them make a profit and survive to farm another year. In the days after "Freedom to Farm'" there were early adopters like Tedrowe Coulter in Kay County who advocated Sesame- a crop that in the early days had major problems with shattering at harvest. Recent generations of this crop handles the stress of harvest much better- but remains a niche crop that farmers contract with the company Sesaco to plant, raise and market.
In Kay County, Don Schieber says the crop that has done well for many farmers, including himself, is soybeans. Schieber, who continues to raise wheat, will have a substantial number of acres in soybeans again this season- saying last year was a "going over the Rubicon" kind of a year- with wheat acres in Kay County at 140,000 in 2017- while there were 160,000 acres of soybeans.
Schieber is a believer that wheat can make farmers money- especially if they are willing to step up their management and raise a higher quality of wheat- mentioning ideas like growing and segregating hard white wheat- or investing into raising a higher protein- better milling and baking quality of wheat. He sees those opportunities to make wheat a profitable part of the farm operation. But, along the way- the ability to farm whatever crop will help you thrive is now a part of the DNA of farmers like Don Schieber and many of this neighbors in Kay County- where continuous wheat fields are less and less a part of the landscape seen here and across north central Oklahoma.
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays talked with Don Schieber about the 2018 Wheat Plots on his farm- and the changes that have occurred in his county- where wheat is no longer the dominant crop in one of the counties long considered to be a integral part of the HRW Wheat Belt. To hear their conversation- click on the LISTEN BAR below.
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