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Rain will bring out the potential of crops after winter

"Will it rain?"

"Well, we hope so!"

That's what you'll hear anywhere wheat farmers are gathered. David Marburger, Oklahoma State University Extension small grains specialist, believes, like everyone else, that problems facing the 2018 wheat crop can be answered favorable with timely rains.

"The good news is wheat is still in winter dormancy, so it's not doing a whole lot of growing," Marburger said. "There is a lot of concern, though, about spotty stands and smaller plants than maybe we would like to see going into winter. But whether you believe me or not, there's still potential out there.

"I'm optimistic the crop will still turn around. The latest weather models and forecasts have all predicted little or no precipitation will occur in the state through at least May into early summer. But I'm not going to worry about the situation yet. There is still time to wait and see which scenario plays out as the crop comes out of dormancy."

Marburger said if farmers don't receive any moisture by then or soon after, things will go bad very quickly.

He said farmers are debating about investing in top-dressing nitrogen. While the fertilizer will be badly needed in order to produce protein-rich grain this year, farmers are hesitant to commit to such an effort without rain necessary to drive the nitrogen into the ground.

"Whether or not to apply fertilizer is a tough question," he said. "It's is a real gamble."

He is advising farmers to utilize nitrogen rich test strips and base their top-dressing decisions on the results. He maintains farmers should wait to see what happens later in the spring and hope for a good rain.

Keeping an eye on the weather, OSU Extension grain marketings pecialist  Kim Anderson gives some suggestions on alternate summer crops to replace a lost wheat crop.

Gary McManus, who works with the Oklahoma Mesonet, said that for at least 130 days 38 percent of the state has been in extreme drought. All of the state suffers from sort of drought, with 88 percent of the state in the severe state.

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