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Oklahoma's late rains further harm wheat crop

The drought and a late freeze harmed this year’s wheat crops in Oklahoma, dragging down the yield, farmers said. Now that it’s early June, it’s time to harvest, but the wheat can’t be cut when it’s wet, and storing damp wheat makes it spoil.
By Catherine Sweeney, Business Writer Modified: June 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: June 15, 2014
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The rain that could have been a blessing has become a curse.

“We have been dry for three years, and it started raining 10 days ago,” said Blackwell wheat farmer Harold Wooderson.

The drought and a late freeze harmed this year’s wheat crops, dragging down the yield. Now that it’s early June, it’s time to harvest. But the wheat can’t be cut when it’s wet. And storing damp wheat makes it spoil.

Farmers have to wait until the dew dries. Now they’re having to wait for rain to stop and the sun to dry the crops. Instead of harvesting all day, they have only a few hours.

Wooderson started the wheat harvest Wednesday at his farm. Usually, it takes about a week. If the rain doesn’t let up soon, it might take two or three weeks, he said.

The longer they wait, the more grass and weeds will grow in the fields. It’s hard to separate them.

His farm has suffered enough without the rain. A normal harvest yields about 50 bushels an acre, he said. So far, they’ve been seeing about 20 per acre.

Wooderson isn’t alone. Wheat farmers across the state have been struggling.

“In many cases, the rain just came too late,” said Mike Schulte, executive director for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

Crops yields are exceptionally low this year.

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