Mark Hodges, executive director of Plains Grains, Inc./Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., issued the following statement on the 2012 Oklahoma wheat crop:
“It now appears the 2012 Oklahoma wheat crop was sandwiched between two very rapid developing major droughts cycles covering large areas the central and southern Great Plains. Oklahoma wheat producers planted the crop last fall in to bone-dry soil in most parts of the state to see abnormally abundant precipitation in late October into November (the exceptions were mainly in the Panhandle). This, and subsequent timely moisture throughout the winter, allowed the crop to develop a good root system and abundant tillers (stems). However, most wheat producing areas never saw enough moisture to replenish the subsoil moisture (depleted during the 2011 drought) which magnified the importance of that timely moisture and its benefits to the crop.
“As the crop developed under these atypical winter moisture conditions the temperatures were also abnormally warm, not just daytime temperatures, but night time temperatures as well. So wheat plants really never went ‘dormant' and continued to develop roots and tillers at a rate Oklahoma rarely sees. The result was abundant grazing opportunities in most areas of the state with the only problem (in a positive sense) being the rate of gain of cattle was so high, because of the favorable conditions, many producers had to pull cattle off early (normal pull-off date would be late February into early March) as cattle were getting ‘too big' for the feedlot.
“Then came March (hot and dry), April (hot and dry), May (hot and dry), this being at a time in wheat plant development when the demand for water by the plant is the highest. Conditions producers need during this time frame generally are: below 85 degrees, soil profile full of moisture, and sunshine. At that point the crop was ... ahead of normal development. Even with the good root system the plant had developed, there were so many tillers and so much forage produced and no subsoil moisture reserve, the crop started to go backwards, in a hurry. Early concerns were the resulting crop would have low test weight, shrunken kernels and nowhere near the crop producers needed after last year's devastating drought.