McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

May 29, 2014

Drought continues: Officials say recent rains have little effect on wheat or canola yields

ENID, Okla. — Recent rains are expected to have little impact on the local wheat and canola harvest.

“It’s not going to be of value to the wheat or canola, that crop’s already made as far as the yield potential,” said Rick Nelson, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Garfield County. “It may help the fill, it may increase the quality. I mean we may have a better test weight on the wheat.”

Some canola already has been cut, he said.

“The yield is made. It won’t be an impact, the moisture received on the yields. It will be of value to those still planting grain sorghum, soybeans,” Nelson said.

Some producers, he said, had halted planting of grain sorghum and soybeans and were waiting for rain.

“They just weren’t sure it was worth the effort and expense to go plant that grain sorghum when there wasn’t any moisture to get it up and going,” he said. “Those folks will be back to finishing up their summer crop seeding operations.”

Nelson said the wheat harvest started in southern Oklahoma last week and is expected to begin locally around June 10, barring additional rainfall.

The Oklahoma wheat crop is projected to be an average of 19.5 bushels an acre, he said.

“I think our county average will be down considerably. The acres left — a lot of those acres have been either harvested for hay or been abandoned — those acres that are county average acres, we’re going to be somewhere in the 20 to 40 bushels,” Nelson said. “There’s a few good fields out there, but there’s some fields that are in that lower range around that statewide average of 20.”

He said farmers are trying to make sure they get enough wheat harvested for seed for next year.

According to U.S. Drought Monitor, there was improvement in areas with exceptional drought between May 20 and Tuesday.

Nearly half of Garfield County remains in exceptional drought, while the other half is in extreme drought. Conditions in Major County are similar.

Meanwhile, Grant and Woods counties were listed as being completely in exceptional drought. Most of Alfalfa and Woodward counties also were listed as being in exceptional drought.

Blaine and Kingfisher counties were in severe and extreme drought, and Logan County is in extreme drought.

Exceptional drought is the highest level of drought listed by U.S. Drought Monitor.

Possible impacts of exceptional drought include “exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses” and water shortages “creating water emergencies,” according to U.S. Drought Monitor.

Extreme drought is defined with possible impacts being “major crop/pasture losses” and “widespread water shortages or restrictions.”

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