Roger Gribble Says North-Central Producers Cautiously Hopeful About Winter Crop ConditionsTue, 11 Dec 2012 15:08:16 CST
The latest Mesonet drought monitor shows extreme to exceptional drought continuing over more than 90 percent of the state. Some areas have seen patchy rains from time to time over the last few months. While that hasn’t improved drought conditions overall, it has affected winter crop conditions in a patchwork fashion. Over the next three days, the Oklahoma Farm Report will feature the observations of three Oklahoma State University Extension agronomists from their respective regions of the state.
First up is Roger Gribble. He is based in Enid and is responsible for the north-central and northwestern parts of the state. He said overall, crop conditions are not promising, but there are a few pockets where they aren’t doing so poorly.
“We did have some decent moisture to establish the wheat crop and since then we haven’t been able to get that rain that we need to anchor the plants and start grazing a little bit.
“The west side, west of Enid, is just kind of holding in there. If you go north of Enid, a lot of those acres are just barely up out of the ground or still in the ground.
“The garden spot would be just south of Enid towards Kingfisher, between Watonga and Kingfisher, maybe south into Canadian County, there’s some pretty good stands of wheat. There’s maybe a little grazing in that area. Another area that we see some grazing is over around Fairview. That wheat’s pretty good. But we’re running out of pasture at that point because we just haven’t had any rain.”
In general, wheat pasture conditions are very poor, Gribble says.
“I’d hasten to say that outside of Kingfisher County and Blaine County, maybe one in 20 fields would have any type of livestock close to it.”
Turning to canola, Gribble says producers were enthusiastic and have increased acres over last year. Without moisture, however, the canola crop looks like it is taking a beating along with the wheat.
“The guys who started early in that planting window maybe had a little better success. Again, early we had a little moisture to deal with. The later-planted canola seems to be struggling and it’s out of the ground and just kind of in a sitting pattern-still fairly small because of no rainfall. I’m a little worried about, if we’re talking about, poor weather conditions that may be the one I’m worried about a little more because a lot of those soils are really dry. And you put a dry cold snap on that and I’m afraid that we may not have enough growth and development to survive maybe a really hard cold snap.
“A lot of cold weather has come through. Those plants that are in pretty good condition have melted down now so it’s in that dormant period. So we’ll just see where we are when we break dormancy in the spring after a good rain.”
Gribble says pastures are dry as well. He said livestock is disappearing because there is simply not enough grass. He says rains will help, but come next spring, pastures are going to have to be managed very carefully.
“We definitely have to recover and our stocking rates are going to have to reduce. And we see a little of that because of maybe some livestock being moved out of this area and then we don’t have the stocker numbers that we normally have.
“I think the ones of most concern would be, I think, our native grasses will basically survive, but the initial green-up period, it beginning to grow and develop, we can’t have many cattle out there at all.
“I’m a little more worried about the introduced pastures-Bermuda grass, love grass, or bluestem--specifically sandy sites that don’t hold water. I think we’ll lose some of those stands. Maybe not every plant, but we’ll lose a majority.
“I’m really worried about Old World Bluestem, at least in northwest Oklahoma to the west side of Enid. I think we’re going to have to delay grazing that maybe the whole year so that we can get those fields recovered. That’s not going to be anything to sit well with any cattleman. But if we’re going to persist with these pastures in a drought scenario, we’re going to have to reduce stocking rates.”
While producers are trying to take the poor conditions in stride, Gribble says it’s not easy for producers who were expecting better conditions especially after the fall rains we saw a year before which really helped winter crops early on. He says a lot of producers are being very cautious in how they will manage their winter crops this year while keeping an eye on their spring plans.
“I think a lot of people were dismayed with where we stood last year. Again, we had pretty good subsoil moisture that got everything off to a good start. Corn looked good. Grain sorghum looked good. Beans struggled a bit, but we were there. And then we just ran into some heat and, then, lack of rainfall really hurt us. There was some harvest, and I think if you look to, particularly, to producers who use crop rotation in their strategies, I think they’re going to continue to look at that particular crop, but it may be delayed in purchasing seed, maybe some of their herbicide work and, for sure, their fertility work until we get into the spring to make sure they’re going to want to be consistent in their crop rotation. But my early discussion right now is that we’re going to go with our crop rotations. We’re going to plant corn in March. We’re going to plant beans in early April. And we’re going to plant grain sorghum in the middle part of April. So, I think we’re there.”
Gribble said producers should be looking at their crop insurance now to help determine how they will proceed with their winter crops from here.
You can listen to the Roger Gribble’s full conversation with Ron Hays by clicking here.
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