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Late freeze adds to drought woes for Oklahoma wheat growers

Temps dipped below freezing in many parts of Oklahoma Monday night
by Brianna Bailey Modified: April 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm •  Published: April 16, 2014

“It will be another week before we will know if we will be able to harvest something, or not much of anything and get an insurance check that will pay some of the bills and will get us until next year,” Harris said.

Stress from drought

A month ago, Harris looked out at his fields and believed he would have a good crop this year, but a dry month has left wheat plants stressed.

“We haven’t had any rain and the wheat is turning blue,” Harris said.

A blue cast to wheat plants is an indicator of drought stress.

Rick Kochenower, area research and extension specialist for Oklahoma State University in Goodwell, said the wheat crop in the Panhandle is less likely to be damaged by Tuesday’s freeze because plants are about a week behind their normal growth rate because of colder weather this past winter.

Drought is the biggest problem for Panhandle wheat farmers, Kochenower said. Wheat growers there had believed they would have a better crop this year, but a lack of rain has all but dried up those hopes.

Panhandle crop lost?

Goodwell has received only about a quarter of an inch of rain in the past 180 days, Kochenower said.

“The western two thirds of the Oklahoma Panhandle may not cut any wheat this year, and the eastern third isn’t going to cut any if it doesn’t rain soon,” he said.

by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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