Oklahoma farmers anticipate this year’s wheat harvest to be one of the poorest in decades after a late freeze in April and ongoing drought conditions in the western part of the state.
The Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association projected at its annual meeting Wednesday that Oklahoma’s wheat harvest would be about 66.5 million bushels this year. The estimate is based on reports on crop conditions from farmers around the state. That compares to a yield of 105.4 million bushels in 2013, and a 154.8 million bushels in 2012.
The 2014 wheat harvest will go down in history as one of the state’s lowest yields in decades, said Joe Neal Hampton, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association.
“In 43 years, this is the worst crop statewide that I’ve ever seen — it’s going to be a tough year,” Hampton said. While farmers in the state will be able to get by with the assistance of federal crop insurance, grain elevator operators in the state will have a difficult year, he said.
Drought conditions in the Panhandle and southwest Oklahoma are particularly bad, Hampton said. Farmers in the state also are bracing for temperatures expected next week in the 90s that could do even further damage to their already parched fields, he said.
The wheat crop in Tillman County is so poor that Mike Cassidy, co-owner of Cassidy Grain Co., estimates that less than 10 percent of the crop will be harvested. Crops in southwest Oklahoma were already stressed from drought and an April 15 freeze caused further damage, Cassidy said.
In 35 years of farming, Cassidy said this year’s wheat crop in is one of the poorest he has ever seen.
“I thought that last year was the worst year. I thought that that was as bad as it could get, until this year,” said Cassidy, who also co-owns a grain elevator with his brother in Frederick.
In Kingfisher, the late freeze hit at a critical time for crop development, said Mike Rosen, of grain elevator operator Wheeler Brothers Grain Co. Inc.