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Drought Only Partially to Blame for Oklahoma’s Withering Wheat Crop

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While the drought continues to ease in eastern portions of the state, it’s still raging in much of western Oklahoma, where the state’s wheat harvest is taking a hit.

The Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association recently released its estimate of this year’s wheat crop, which Oklahoma Farm Report summed up with one word: “dismal.”

All totaled, Oklahoma producers are expected to harvest 85,583,000 bushels of wheat this year. That’s a 45 percent drop from last year’s harvest of 154.8 million bushels.

That’s a big drop, and the drought is partially to blame. But hail, high winds, and even the timing of recent rains contribute. Last year’s bumper harvest started in early May. The Oklahoman’s Jennifer Palmer reports on why the 2013 harvest is only just now getting underway:

Grandfield, in southwest Oklahoma, processed its first load of cut wheat Monday at Co-Op Services. But many farmers are waiting because of high humidity and rain chances through the week, branch manager Caleb Fourkiller said. “There’s some wheat that could be cut, but it probably needs a few more days to get good and ripe,” he said. “I don’t see us getting really good and busy until Friday.”

Rain and drought aren’t the only weather phenomena conspiring to damage the state’s wheat crop:

Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said wheat from Enid to Ponca City has potential for good yields, but much of the rest of the state’s wheat has been damaged from drought, late freezes, hail and high winds.

Schulte told the paper producers are getting anxious, and just want the wheat in the bin before the weather causes even more damage to crop, and farmers’ livelihoods.

Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma. Logan spent six years as a reporter with StateImpact from 2011 to 2017.
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