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Wheat Harvesting Delayed In Some Parts Of Oklahoma

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Rain and abnormal cloudy weather are leading to unfavorable drying conditions, delaying the wheat harvest in some parts of Oklahoma.

Nearly six million acres of winter wheat is planted yearly in the state according to Oklahoma State University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. The wheat typically grown is Hard Red Winter Wheat, which is used for goods like bread.

Wes Lee, an assistant state specialist with the OSU Cooperative Extension Service and Mesonet Agriculture Coordinator, said rainfall is not the only factor holding harvest back. One major concern has been cloud coverage.

“We need good drying conditions to dry not only the ground out, but the crop out - the grain heads out themselves, and we’ve had extremely cloudy weather for the last 30 or 60 days,” Lee said. “That’s kept the temperatures cooler than normal.”

Lee said recent evaporation rates, temperature and sunshine percentages have been unfavorable.

Mike Schulte, the Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said even though the climate and temperatures have made things difficult, he is hopeful for a good crop this season.

“I feel like the quality of the crop is still there based on the early indications of what we’re seeing,” Schulte said. “But, if we now turn off and the wheat is fully ripened and we continue to get rain for the next week or so, certainly there’s going to be challenges for producers.”

Despite the weather, Schulte said he has not seen reports of major issues affecting wheat quality, such as grain sprouting.

Kim Anderson, a Cooperative Extension Crop Marketing Specialist, said there are common diseases like leaf rust or yellow dwarf that will impact the yield but not necessarily the quality of the berry.

Anderson said if it stays wet, more issues and concerns will arise, but when producers are able, they will quickly begin cutting wheat.

“[Wheat] is a little immature right now and as soon as the sun comes out, and we get a couple warm days, this harvest will hit Oklahoma in a vengeance.”

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Anna Pope is a reporter covering agriculture and rural issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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