OK Wheat Harvest to be Down Significantly


The following article is from Tulsa World:

By KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer

As expected as Oklahoma’s wheat harvest nears completion, crops statewide are dismal after drought, hail and tornadoes punished farmers.

When harvesting is finished, the wheat crop is expected to be down about 38 percent from last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

“There have been a lot of acres that were plowed under and called a loss,” said Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. “It’s bad.”

Crops are particularly bad in the southern and western parts of the state, where many communities have been without significant rainfall since October.

Schulte said some parts of the state are getting 10 to 30 percent of normal harvests. Some areas in northern and northwest Oklahoma have managed good crops, but not enough to offset problems elsewhere.

Weather problems and extreme heat also made this an extremely early and quick harvest for wheat farmers.

Harvesting usually begins the first week of May in southern Oklahoma, but the harvest started about 10 days early because early spring heat caused wheat plants to mature faster. And when harvesting did begin, there was so little wheat that most fields will be finished this weekend.

Charlie Swanson, general manager of Coop Services and operator of three grain elevators, said the Lawton grain elevator will get about 20 percent of the wheat it received last year.

“We’ve had several people that have failed their wheat,” he said.

Most farmers are covered by crop insurance, which gives them 60 to 75 percent of their expected harvest price, but grain elevators and harvesters are not covered.

For those farmers who did survive, runaway commodity prices have sent the cost of grain higher and higher, more than doubling since a year ago. Red hard winter wheat is fetching about $8 a bushel across Oklahoma, according the USDA, compared to about $3.50 a year ago.

“With the prices higher, some of the farmers are pretty close in terms of cash flow,” Swanson said.

The U.S. wheat harvest is expected to be down about 2 percent this year nationwide compared to last year, with the southern plains states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas all reporting particularly bad wheat crops.

Texas wheat growers are expected to produce about a third of the wheat they did last year.

Because of high prices, federal government food economists are expecting cereal and grain prices in the grocery store to rise 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent this year.

Source:  Tulsa World

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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