The state’s drought standing continues to accentuate, and rainfall throughout the subsequent few weeks is essential for a worthwhile 2022 wheat crop, particularly within the northwestern a part of the state.

“Much of the wheat between Stillwater and Woodward should have a decent profile of moisture stored from rainfall since last harvest, but the near surface moisture seems to be very low, and the roots may have not yet tapped into the deeper moisture,” mentioned Jason Warren, a soil and water conservation specialist for Oklahoma State University Extension.

It’s an analogous situation for wheat that was planted after summer time crops. Warren mentioned loads of it’s grown beneath no-till administration to assist retailer rainfall obtained after the harvest of summer time crops, however a dry interval from July by means of September 2021 compelled summer time crops to totally deplete the soil’s moisture profile. The wheat grown after summer time crops relies on rain this spring.

“All of our wheat production systems in western Oklahoma need a good drink and will require average or above-average spring rainfall to be successful,” Warren mentioned.

In the Oklahoma Panhandle the place cattle closely graze wheat pastures within the winter, sub-optimal moisture may even have an effect on crop rotation selections later within the 12 months.

“Extension educators are talking to their producers about whether this is the year we fallow out a lot of our summer crop ground or switch to forage,” mentioned Josh Lofton, OSU Extension cropping techniques specialist. “It’s one of those situations in the western side of the state where I don’t think we need to sell out to all one system but have a mix and match of forages and more drought-hardy crops like cotton and sorghum. We need to have alternative options for whatever Mother Nature gives us in the next few weeks.”

For producers who irrigate their wheat, Saleh Taghvaeian, OSU Extension water sources specialist, mentioned continued drought will end in an earlier irrigation season. He mentioned a plant’s means to adapt to dry circumstances is predicated on the quantity of water the plant obtained throughout germination.

“It’s a very delicate balance, and you have to be careful about how much water is applied early in the growing season,” he mentioned. “Filling the root zone entirely will confuse the crop. It will go into a lazy mode that doesn’t allocate resources to develop roots.”

When a sizzling and dry season arrives, groundwater and irrigation capability declines. Water isn’t out there to fulfill irrigation demand, and the plant’s roots aren’t robust sufficient to succeed in for deeper layers of moisture within the floor.

“In drought, the crop may look shorter and lack that lush green color, but below ground, if its root system is deep and extensive, it can extract more moisture from the root zone,” Taghvaeian mentioned.

While producers await rain on their wheat fields, uncertainty looms round how a lot seed to buy and what enter prices to price range for extra crops. The Oklahoma Mesonet Drought Monitor experiences a majority of the state in not less than average drought, however Lofton mentioned February rains could possibly be a recreation changer.

“Just because we’re dry now doesn’t mean all is lost,” he mentioned. “If it starts raining in early March and we get good recharge, our summer crops could be just fine.”

In addition to crop circumstances, OSU Extension beef cattle specialist Derrell Peel discusses how the present drought is affecting cattle markets.

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