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Oklahoma's wheat harvest is under way. How's it looking?

Wheat Harvest in north west Oklahoma
Todd Johnson
OSU Agricultural Communication Services
A farmer runs a combine in northwest Oklahoma.

Winter wheat is Oklahoma's top crop, and its harvest has begun in the state.

Each year, it makes up more than half of the cash receipts from all crops. Recently, southwestern Oklahoma farmers started cutting the golden grain. Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said the harvest started earlier in the year and this week some producers in Kingfisher County have followed suit.

In 2023, the state’s wheat harvest had a below average production year and brought in about $504 million to the state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But this year, Schulte said early wheat testing is favorable.

He said the state might have avoided initial concerns of freeze or drought damage.

Schulte also said in drier places, like in the Panhandle, there is some good wheat - but some areas got more rainfall than others.

“We're probably going to get into some challenges as we get into northwest Oklahoma and north-central Oklahoma, where we just really didn't have moisture and in a timely time when the plant really needed it,” Schulte said.

Wes Lee, the Oklahoma Mesonet’s agricultural coordinator, said most of the state is fortunate because it has experienced close to a normal amount of rainfall.

“It's been two or three really rough years on cool season crops,” Lee said. “So I think, you know, we're optimistic to see some average to close to average yields and part of the state.”

Lee said it’s not uncommon for the southwest part of the state to be the first to start its harvest toward the end of this month. He said during this time of the year, producers harvesting the crop try to avoid rainfall so they can get into the field.

As harvest ramps up and producers dodge hail, Schulte said they will likely keep their eyes on the weather in the next few days.

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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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