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Another spring freeze threatens Oklahoma wheat crop

Late freezes, hail, and a persistent drought have led the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association to predict a dismal wheat crop this year.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: May 5, 2013
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/articleid/3806440/1/pictures/2043889">Photo - Wheat crops stressed after several late freezes are more susceptible to hail damage. Photo shot 10 miles east of Okarche. <strong> - PROVIDED BY THE OKLAHOMA WHEAT C</strong>
Wheat crops stressed after several late freezes are more susceptible to hail damage. Photo shot 10 miles east of Okarche. - PROVIDED BY THE OKLAHOMA WHEAT C

“I'm still optimistic. I'm still hoping we'll cut an average crop,” Tolle said.

But John Goodknight, who planted about 2,000 acres of wheat at his farm in Chattanooga, said he's expecting to produce a third of a normal crop if the weather is favorable through June. Goodknight, 74, has been farming for 60 years.

“I don't know if I've ever seen a freeze in May before. But we had one (Thursday) night. We were at 30 degrees for several hours,” he said.

Cool, wet weather with cloud cover is ideal, Schulte said. If temperatures climb above 80 degrees in the next month, the wheat crop could potentially burn up in a lot of places.

Some farmers' wheat is so badly damaged they are opting to bale their fields for hay rather than try to harvest it for grain.

The state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is helping farmers pursue weed-free certification so producers can bale their crop and sell it to state and federal agencies that use the mulch for highway, right of way, restoration and reclamation projects.

Weed-free means a field is free from plants in any stages of bud, flowering, seeds or senescence, the department said.

Details about the program can be found at www.oda.state.ok.us/cps-weedfree.htm.

by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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Oklahoma wheat harvest estimates (in bushels)

• South central and southwest: 11.4 million

• Far southwest: 5.5 million

• Southeast: 490,000

• Northeast: 3 million

• Panhandle (including Harper County): 2 million

• West central: 11.3 million

• Central: 15.1 million

• Northwest and west: 15.1 million

• Northwest and north central: 21.6 million

• Total: 85.5 million

Source: Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association

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