An early morning freeze Tuesday could have put further stress on Oklahoma’s wheat crop, already hurting because of continued drought conditions.
Temperatures dipped below 32 degrees for more than 10 hours in many parts of the state. Plants in southwest Oklahoma could have been particularly affected by Tuesday’s freeze because the wheat crop is further along than in the northern part of the state, said Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.
It will be another week before farmers are able to tell if Tuesday’s freeze significantly harmed this year’s crop by examining wheat plants for signs of damage, Schulte said.
“The crop this year was already extremely stressed because of drought before this freeze event, so we are concerned.” Schulte said.
The state’s wheat crop has suffered the past two years with continued drought, late freezes and severe weather conditions, he said.
In 2013, Oklahoma’s wheat crop yielded 105.4 million bushels, down from 154.8 million in 2012. The five-year average yield for the state’s wheat crop — 106.58 million bushels — is much lower than in previous years because of less-than-ideal crop conditions, Schulte said.
Kiowa County wheat farmer Zac Harris, who grows about 6,200 acres of wheat near Hobart, said temperatures dipped below 28 degrees for several hours Tuesday morning, leaving him worried he won’t have much wheat to harvest this year.