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Agricultural News

WheatWatch 2013- The Year of the Flimsy Wheat Crop

Fri, 26 Apr 2013 05:44:23 CDT

WheatWatch 2013- The Year of the Flimsy Wheat Crop The 2013 Hard Red Winter Wheat Crop may be one that is known in some areas of the southern Great Plains as the "Flimsy Wheat Crop." Oklahoma State University Extension Area Agronomist Roger Gribble talked with Farm Director Ron Hays at the Canola Field Tour Stop east of Perry on Thursday afternoon- and they discussed the status of the 2013 HRW crop in central, north central and northwest Oklahoma. Our conversation with Roger Gribble and more is a service of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and our WheatWatch2013 series of reports about this year's hard red winter wheat crop. Click here for more information about the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and how they are working hard for the Oklahoma Wheat Producer.

Gribble and OSU extension Canola Specialist Josh Bushong agreed that the canola being inspected east of Perry at the Winter Canola Demonstration plot maintained by OSU had little to no freeze damage- and apparently had handled recent cold conditions well. They both agreed that the location was just east of most of the colder weather seen several mornings in the last four to five weeks.

Gribble says that when it comes to the 2013 wheat crop in his area- it varies almost from field to field. He contends that the problems associated with the 2013 crop all began with the drought conditions of last fall and winter. The freeze events that have happened since the latter part of March have caused some head damage- but the level of damage is still being assessed- especially with the latest freeze of earlier in the week (April 22-23). However, he says a trend that is developing in a lot of the wheat fields he has checked is the relative weakness of the wheat stem. "We are starting to see in the lower portion of the stem, a discoloration of the node." Specifically, Gribble says the problem is that this discoloration signals that "you'll see a crack in the node." Basically, it also signals a weakness in the stem of the wheat that as the crop matures and if there is a head higher up on that stem- the weight of the head waving in the Oklahoma spring wind will cause the wheat plant to go down- the stem will be so flimsy because of freeze damage- it will not stand up all the way to harvest.

Gribble says the damage from the freeze of April 11-12 is just now starting to show up- and the damage from the latest freeze will not fully show itself until we have some warmer weather to spur crop growth. Gribble did tell the participants at the Noble County Canola Tour stop that he has concerns about significant freeze damage from this week's freeze north and west of a line that stretches all the way from Newkirk down to Altus- obviously a hugh part of the Oklahoma wheat belt.

As for the conversation between Hays and Gribble, click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Gribble's description of what he is seeing to this point(as of Thursday afternoon, April 25).

In addition to the conversation with Gribble, the Oklahoma Farm Report also got an email update from the Executive Director of Plains Grains, Incorporated, Mark Hodges. Hodges has grave concerns about the 2013 crop- especially in southwest Oklahoma as well as in the Oklahoma Panhandle. He says he continues to scout the situation but offers what his expectations currently are:

"Over the next week I will have been able to tour Northwest Oklahoma and Kansas (Wheat Quality Council Tour) and have a few more days since the latest round of freezing temps, so I should have a much clearer picture of the potential damage. Right now, it remains too early because freeze damage primarily occurs from the freezing and rupturing of cells and until it is warm enough for that those damaged cells to dehydrate it will be hard to see the damage. In southwest Oklahoma, the damage was, in many cases, from sterilization and no pollination which is very evident in many fields at this point.

"Meanwhile, in the Panhandle a lot of wheat has been "burnt" to the soil surface from temperatures in the teens (and growing points were 2"-3" above the surface), again pretty obvious damage. From what I have seen so far (and it is still too early) we will see some very significant damage, but it will be much worse in the SW and Panhandle vs.
North and North Central parts of the state.

"That is not to say there is not damage in those areas, just that at this point it does not appear to be as severe, but again still too early to make that assessment. Additionally, there are the added factors of variety, stage of development, grazed/ungrazed, etc. I would say if/when we get a couple of days of 85+ degree days, low humidity and 20+ mph winds the evidence will be overwhelming.

"The other somewhat lost factor is the moisture situation and the damage it has inflicted. While many areas of the state have had relief from the drought a lot of wheat producing areas have not. This has resulted in the western most areas of the state (extending into the TX Panhandle, eastern CO, western KS, western NE) plants with low tiller counts and very shallow and undeveloped root systems. Again, 85+ degree days, low humidity and 20+ mph winds will put transpiration demands on the plants that are unsustainable and will become very obvious.

"All that said...should we remain cool (under 85 degrees), have low transpiration demand, timely moisture and sunshine through grainfill, the damage will be mitigated...but what are the odds?!?"


Ron Hays talks with Area Agronomist Roger Gribble about the 2013 Oklahoma wheat crop.
right-click to download mp3


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