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Late wintry weather can put chill on Oklahoma wheat crop

Many Oklahoma wheat farmers are waiting to see what damage a late freeze might have inflicted on their crop, but most remain optimistic.
by Brianna Bailey Modified: April 19, 2013 at 11:28 pm •  Published: April 22, 2013

/articleid/3791413/1/pictures/2022219">Photo - Wheat farmer Zac Harris examines his crop for disease and freeze damage Friday in Hobart.  Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Wheat farmer Zac Harris examines his crop for disease and freeze damage Friday in Hobart. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

“I guess it was the way I was raised. I would rather make money by having a good crop. I didn't become a farmer to farm insurance,” he said.

May not affect prices

Lane Broadbent, Oklahoma City-based commodities firm K.I.S. Futures Inc. president, whose family grows wheat in western Oklahoma, said farmers in southwest Oklahoma could have had as much as half of their wheat wiped out by recent freezing temperatures.

“Their crop was really, really hurt three weeks ago and then last week they got hit again,” he said. “A lot of those guys, they are acting like their crop is at least 50 percent damaged.”

While freezing temperatures could affect crop yields in Oklahoma, that probably won't do much to affect wheat prices, Broadbent said.

“Wheat is such a global market anymore, it matters more what kind of crop Kansas, Ukraine and Australia raises,” he said. “Just because the wheat crop failed in a 200-square-mile area doesn't necessarily equate to higher prices.”

David Gammill, who farms near Lawton, estimates he has lost 30 to 50 percent of his crop this year because of late winter weather.

The freeze March 26 and a round of hail and rain on April 9, followed by the freeze on April 11, battered Gammill's 1,000-acre wheat farm near Chattanooga, south of Lawton.

He initially thought his crop might be a total loss, but he now believes he could harvest 20 to 30 bushels per acre.

Although temperatures dipped below freezing again Thursday night at Gammill's farm, he was confident the latest freeze has not further damaged his wheat.

“It looks a little better now. There was extensive damage, but the plants seem to be recovering a little now,” Gammill said. “At least we will have something to harvest.”

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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Also ...

Wheat has roles as crop, forage

Oklahoma farmers sow about 6 million acres of winter wheat each year, making wheat Oklahoma's largest cash crop. In addition to being a major grain crop, Oklahoma wheat plays a vital role in the cattle industry. Depending on market conditions, 30 to 50 percent of Oklahoma'wheat acres will be grazed by stocker cattle during the winter months.

SOURCE: Oklahoma State University Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

Oklahoma wheat production

2012: 154.8 million bushels

2011: 70.4 million bushels

2010: 120.9 million bushels

2009: 77 million bushels

2008: 166.5 million bushels

SOURCE: Oklahoma Wheat Commission


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