It is never safe to throw a blanket statement over the Oklahoma wheat crop.
The question “What's the wheat looking like” may not only be met with a reply of “Where?” but “What part of the field are you talking about?”
Mark Gregory, based in Duncan, and Roger Gribble, based in Enid, are longtime area Oklahoma State University extension agronomy specialists. But Gregory's area is the southwest while Gribble's is the northwest. The Oklahoman tossed some common topics the way of each to see just how similar, or different, their answers would be.
The growing season
Gregory said timely rains have kept the crop going, particularly in the far southwest part of the state.
Gribble said in the northwest, it was difficult during the establishment period. Dry soil conditions made getting a stand of wheat challenging. But, rainfall in October made things better and conditions had been good until just recently.
Estimates were for good yields up until recent weeks, Gregory said. He added that rains have been spotty, and there are many areas that are very dry.
In the northwest, Gribble said he would have expected potentially above average yields until about two weeks ago.
There's never a shortage of concerns.
In Gregory's area there have been some problems with plant diseases, high winds causing the wheat to fall over and also some problems with armyworms. Triple-digit temperatures have been recorded in portions of his area.
Gribble said problems in his area have included high temperatures and winds a few weeks ago.
“We have white heads showing in the fields,” Gribble said. “Some of that is disease pressure, but a lot will be just not enough moisture and too much heat.”
And both said that hail is always a concern.
Yields were about half of normal, or less, during the 2011 harvest, Gregory said.
Harvest was poor in most locations in the northwest area in 2011. The best wheat was in eastern Woods and northern Alfalfa County, Gribble said of his portion of the state.
Hay or grain?
“Since producers are short on hay, some of the acres of wheat are being rolled up for hay, which is not unusual,” Gregory said. “Production of hay, in bales per acre on those acres, is up.”
Gribble said he's seeing less haying and more focus on harvesting for grain.
“If we can get it in, yields should be good and hopefully we can get a good price,” he said.