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Wheat being stressed by warm weather, low prices

Guess what? Warm, dry weather (until last week's snowstorm) and low prices are placing the 2016-17 wheat crop under stress.

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service monthly report, there are no wheat acres in excellent condition and a lot of farmers have decided to graze out their wheat this year.

Cold and dry weather during December 2016, put "some hurt" on the wheat crop. An arctic blast Dec. 1, dropped temperatures 60 degrees in a 24-hour period. And while December is normally a dry month for Oklahoma, an extended dry spell preceding the final month of the year set the stage for the crop to have less moisture.

According to NASS, topsoil ratings were much drier as the year ended when compared with the previous year of 2015, one of the wettest years on record for Oklahoma. Topsoil ratings a year earlier were 40 percent surplus moisture, 59 percent adequate and only 1 percent short.

At the end of December 2016, there was zero surplus topsoil moisture, 30 percent was called adequate and 70 percent was deemed to be short or very short in the moisture column. Rainfall totals for the state on a region-by-region basis for the for the last three months of 2016 show only the southwest district anywhere close to having normal soil moisture.

The irony of this situation is the southwest corner is usually the driest part of the state. Timely rains in this location helped produce a record cotton crop for Oklahoma During the last three months of 2016, southwestern Oklahoma received 8.84 inches of rain, or 94 percent of normal. In contrast, the panhandle region received only 35 percent of normal precipitation and east central Oklahoma only 41 percent of normal rainfall. Southeast Oklahoma, usually one of the areas receiving the most rainfall, had just 48 percent of the normal rainfall the area receives in the same three-month period.

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