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Area wheat crop in danger

Lack of moisture leads farmers to turn cows onto pastures

Last week's rains will help some Southwest Oklahoma wheat farmers, but the moisture came too late to benefit many growers in the western part of the region.

Oklahoma Mesonet sites recorded totals ranging from about a half inch at Hollis to almost 2 inches at Velma last week, a continuation of a long-term trend. For the past 90 days, totals ranged from 1.80 inches at Hollis to 6.10 inches at Walters to 10.2 inches at Velma.

Jimmy Kinder of Kinder Farms in Cotton County can testify to the fact that a few miles can make all the difference. The farms are along a 12-mile swath, he said. One field in the west will be a total loss, some fields in the middle still have promise, and in the east, "We have really good-looking wheat right now."

There was an Oklahoma State University Extension Service field day in Cotton County last week, he said, and the wheat specialists "were actually quite surprised the crop looked as good as it did."

Wheat farmers went into the fall with hopes that good moisture from summer would continue. Winter and early spring turned out to be warm and dry, for the most part. 

"We had some pretty good moisture back then," Kinder said. "Then the spigot turned off."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on April 22 reported that 64 percent of Oklahoma wheat acreage was rated poor or very poor; 1 percent was rated excellent.

Farmers whose fields show promise are hoping for more rain and moderate temperatures as harvest approaches within a month or so.

Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said the rains did nothing for farmers in the west. In the central part of the state, farmers may not see a bumper crop, but 25 to 30 bushels an acre may be in the cards.

The Lawton Constitution

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