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Mike Schulte, Oklahoma Wheat Commission, Says Farmers Are Making Rapid Progress Planting a Crop They Hope Consumers Will Continue to Show a Strong Demand For

Wed, 07 Oct 2020 10:42:32 CDT

Mike Schulte, Oklahoma Wheat Commission, Says Farmers Are Making Rapid Progress Planting a Crop They Hope Consumers Will Continue to Show a Strong Demand  For Oklahoma wheat producers are making rapid progress planting their crop which they hope will continue a trend of strong consumer demand for wheat food products.

Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission recently spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays.

In the latest USDA crop progress report, winter wheat planting in Oklahoma was estimated at 45 percent complete with 20 percent emerged.

I suspect we are a little higher on the numbers across the state, Schulte said, especially in the central part of the state.

Some of those areas are 85 to 90 percent planted, he said.

Certainly, in central Oklahoma we had better efforts to get the crop in with available moisture in September, he said.

Topsoil moisture is a concern, but deeper moisture is still available, he noted.

The next couple of weeks could be a challenge, especially for producers who have not planted, suggesting the crop might have to be "dusted in," Schulte said.

The last couple of years Oklahoma farmers have had good production and marketing success.

We have had some great success on the export market, especially in the Far East, Schulte said.

High Plains producers have had success moving hard red winter wheat into the China market.

They usually purchase soft white wheat from the northwest, Schulte said.

He credits work on blending hard red winter wheat with soft wheat varieties for the increased exports to China.

The Asian market holds tremendous potential, he said.

We have had the largest amount of exports over the last five years with a 30 percent increase in hard red winter wheat going to China, Schulte said. That number just five years ago was zero, he said.

We're hopeful we are going to see more wheat move into those regions, he said.

The domestic market with branded wheat bread products has also shown great promise.

A recent 24-week study ending Aug. 9 showed $7.4 billion in sales, a 17 percent increase over the same period last year.

Domestic baking companies are showing an 18 to 22 percent increase in bread sales, he said.

Those are dramatic numbers compared to just a few years ago when gluten intolerance concerns created consumer challenges.

The pandemic has forced people to take a second look at bread, Schulte said, helping consumers understand that wheat food products gives them the essential nutrition they need for a healthy lifestyle, he said.

Schulte credits work at Oklahoma State University for the increased consumer demand.

I think what's really interesting this year is the kernel size, test weights and baking ability, this crop has all the qualities any baker would want and that explains the increase in demand, Schulte said.

OSU released five new wheat varieties this fall, which includes four hard red wheat varieties and one hard white wheat variety.

Schulte said the new varieties emphasize disease resistance that should help producers have higher yields while providing the baking functionalities.

The high quality will be on display at the Junior Wheat Show banquet Oct. 21 at Embassy Suites Northwest in Oklahoma City rather than on the OSU campus in Stillwater to allow for more space and social distancing protocol.

Schulte is excited about a new website to be launched in December featuring new tools and resources for both consumers and producers.

Click on the listen bar below to hear more of Ron's interview with Mike Schulte.


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