August 7, 2018

Gary McManus and El Nino

By Don Atkinson, Wheat Squared

 It’s not time to build an Ark yet but NOAA said Oklahoma may be getting more rainfall soon. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an El Nino watch in late June 2018. Gary McManus, Oklahoma State Climatologist, said that an El Nino weather pattern should develop by September or October.

“This year we hope we’re going to see an El Nino develop,” McManus said. “An El Nino is much more favorable for Oklahoma because it does bring that wetter and cooler-than-normal weather late Fall through early Spring.”

The effects of an El Nino are more pronounced on the West Coast of the United States but extend across the southern states like Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. El Nino typically brings more rainfall and cooler temperatures.

An El Nino forms when the Pacific waters off the western coast of South America warm up. As moisture evaporates and rises into the air, winds in the middle latitudes shift west to east (known as “the westerlies”) and carry it across the lower United States. El Nino usually lasts one to two years before dissipating.

McManus said the indicators are very strong that an El Nino will develop.

“The actual strength of that El Nino is harder to determine,” he said. “But the El Nino does look likely. As we get into the Fall we’ll get a better idea of just how strong of an El Nino event this will be.”

La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, forming when Pacific waters off the western coast of South America cool. La Nina typically brings warmer and drier conditions to Oklahoma.

“One or two years of an El Nino,” McManus said. “Then we’ll switch back to neutral, maybe a year or two of La Nina, then neutral again. They can piggyback off one another but generally on the order of one to two years.”

McManus said in the past, El Nino has brought cooler temperatures to Oklahoma but not necessarily cold enough for snow. The previous La Nina weather pattern likely caused drought in Kansas and Oklahoma. Much of the Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt is impacted by La Nina and El Nino.

According to the Oklahoma Mesonet, the four most intense El Nino events on records brought additional rainfall to the state. Between 1972 and 1973, the statewide average showed an additional nine inches of precipitation.

Wheat Squared is sponsored by the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.


June 5, 2018

Oklahoma Wheat Harvest Moves Across the State from South to North

Report by the Oklahoma Wheat Commission

The Oklahoma Wheat harvest continues to progress in most regions of the state with the exception of far Northwestern and Panhandle areas.  Early test cuttings have been accepted at Shattuck this afternoon with reports of one sample at 14.9% moisture.  Elevator managers and producers are hopeful, harvest will begin in this region tomorrow.  Two weeks since first cuttings were accepted down at Frederick, OK, harvest has been progressing rapidly across the state with the hot dry temperatures. Favorable proteins and test weights continue to be reported across the state, but early reports on test weights in the far Northern areas of the state are coming in lower than expected on the first cuttings.  Producers and elevator managers are hopeful the test weights will rise in this region, and that yields will also be better as harvest progresses.  (Harvest in the Northern regions of the state are being reported anywhere from 5 to 15% completed based on locations.)  While protein qualities and test weights have been promising for the most part across Oklahoma, lower yields and lack of acres with losses to Cotton and other crops continue to make this an extremely fast-moving harvest.  In several locations across the central and Western corridors of the state from Texas to Kansas, many elevator managers have mentioned they hope to take in 10 percent of what they would in a normal year.   As of today, it looks like the May 10th USDA estimates of the Oklahoma Wheat Crop at 2 million acres with a 26 bushel per acre average for a total of 52 million bushels to be harvested in the state will be right on target. This number could come in lower than anticipated based on the increased reports of abandonment.

Southwest Oklahoma

Grandfield- Wheat harvest is 95% complete.  Proteins have not been as high in this Southern corridor like in other parts of Oklahoma but are still averaging around 11 to 11.5%. Test weights on the wheat have been ranging from 60 to 62 lbs./bu. Yields have ranged all over the board from as low as 15 to as high as 60 bushels per acre, depending on the location.  East of Hwy 36, the yields were much higher. West of Hwy 36, yields decline the further west you move.  While producers were thankful for the higher reported yields, it is important to note these higher yields will not make up for the losses and lower yields reported in this trade territory of Southwest Oklahoma overall.

Duke- Test weights reported in a range from 59 to 60 lbs./bu.  Protein averages reported at 13.5%. Yields reported from the mid-teens to the mid 20’s. Harvest reported to be 60% complete.

Gotebo- Test weights reported in a range from 59 to 60 lbs./bu. Protein averages 12.5 to 13%.  Yields reported in the mid-teens to mid 20’s. Harvest reported to be 50% complete.

 Hobart- Test weights reported to be averaging 60 lbs./bu. Protein averages reported at 12.5 to 13%. Yields reported in the mid-teens to mid 20’s. Harvest reported to be 50% complete.

Lone Wolf- Test weights reported at a 61 lb./bu. average. Protein averages reported at 12.5 to 13%. Yields reported in the mid-teens to mid 20’s. Harvest reported to be 50% complete.

Carter- Test weights reported at a 60 lb./bu. average.  Protein averages reported at 12.5 to 13%. Yields reported in the mid-teens to mid 20’s. Harvest reported to be 50% complete.

In most of these locations of Southwest Oklahoma, elevators are hoping to take in 10% of what they normally would due to the severe drought and loss of wheat acres to cotton acres.

Sentinel/Rocky- Test weights have been averaging 62lbs./bu.  Yields reported to be making anywhere from 13 to 30 bushels per acre.  No proteins have been reported.  Harvest is estimated to be 35 to 45% complete in this area.

Central Oklahoma

Okarche- Test weights are averaging 60lbs./bu. Protein average is reported at 12.79%.  A lot of 13 to 14% proteins have been reported, with some as high as 16.5%.  Yields for the most part ranging from the mid 20’s to the mid 30’s with the occasional report of some coming in at 40 or higher.  Harvest around Okarche reported to be 50 to 60% complete.

Kingfisher/Omega- Harvest for this area is 60 to 65% completed. Test weights reported from 58 to 62lbs./bu.  Yields are reported from the mid 20’s to the mid 30’s.  Protein averages are coming in at 12.5%.  Grazing did have an impact on yields in this region. Lower yields or complete abandonment start taking place on the Kingfisher/Blaine county lines, due to the severe impacts of the drought.  Foreign material is significantly down from previous years, a much cleaner crop is being reported.

Loyal- Harvest in this area is 40% complete. Test weights averaging a strong 60lbs./bu. Yields are making in the mid 20’s to the low 30’s for the most part.   Protein averages coming in at 12.5%.  Foreign material is significantly down in this region from previous years, a much cleaner crop is being reported.

North Central Oklahoma

Enid- Test weights are ranging all over the board, from 56 to 62 lbs./bu. depending on the variety and location.  Proteins are reported to be ranging from 11.5 to as high as 16%.  Elevator locations for the most part have been saying that it has not been uncommon to see 13 to 14% protein averages for specific locations, although these numbers might not be completely representative of the overall 2018 crop since only 5 to 25% of the crop has been harvested to date in this area.  Yields have been reported all over the board from the mid teens to the mid 30’s.

Kremlin/Medford/Nardin/Nash/Renfrow- Early reports from what has been harvested in these locations have test weights ranging from 54.5 to 60lbs./bu.  Currently the averages from the region are coming in around that 57.5 to 58.5 lbs./bu. (Harvest is just starting with 5% complete.) Elevators and producers in the area are hopeful test weights will pick up with the better quality wheat.  Proteins  reported in the 12 to 13% range. Yields on the early harvested wheat ranging from 15 to 30 bushels per acre.

 Northwest Oklahoma

Alva- Test weights reported in the ranges of 57 to 59lbs/bu.  Proteins are reported in the 12 to 13% range.

No actual yields have been reported although it is expected this area will see ranges from the mid-teens to the mid 30’s depending on location and variety.  It is predicted that 15 to 20 percent of this region is harvested.

Shattuck- At the time of this report on Tuesday morning, harvest had not started but one sample was tested at 14.9% moisture. The test weight on that sample was 60 lbs./bu. The protein was reported at 12%.  Producers are hopeful harvest will begin late Tuesday evening or on Wednesday, June 6th.

The Panhandle

Harvest has not begun in this region, but around the Buffalo, Guymon and Hooker regions, harvest is predicted to start on the dry-land wheat by this coming weekend.


May 29, 2018

2018 Oklahoma Wheat Harvest Begins in South and Central Oklahoma over the Memorial Day Weekend

Report by the Oklahoma Wheat Commission

https://osuwheat.com/2018/05/29/2018-oklahoma-wheat-harvest-begins-in-south-and-central-oklahoma-over-the-memorial-day-weekend/

Harvest for the 2018 season has begun in Oklahoma with combines rolling in the southwestern part of the state over the Memorial Day weekend. While much of the crop has been abandoned due to severe drought conditions in western regions of the state, some elevator locations in the south-central corridor have been reporting decent yields and favorable qualities on the wheat that is being harvested (the south-central corridor received rains in early spring that were timely). We have also had reports of wheat harvest beginning in central regions of the state around the Okarche, Kingfisher, Loyal, and Omega areas. While early reports are showing favorable proteins and test weights on the wheat being harvested, many elevator locations in the western part of the state predict this will be one of the fastest wheat harvests they have ever seen. This is based on all the acres abandoned due to the severe drought conditions that have plagued this part of the state since October. It is important to note we have also seen a decline in wheat acres due to increased cotton, sesame, and soybean plantings (one elevator location mentioned they hope to take in 10% of what they would in a normal year due to the drought and increased plantings of other crops). Producers are also hopeful the predicted storms tonight and Wednesday will pass thru without causing any damage.

Grandfield- Wheat harvest has just started in this region with most of the custom cutters now in town. On the wheat that was harvested over the weekend, test weights were running at 62 to 63 lbs./bu. Early protein reports were showing ranges from 11.5 to 12%. Yields from some of the producers have been reported better than expected with some reports of 40 to 50 bushel averages.

Frederick- Early reports from this region before the weekend had reports of one load of wheat coming in at 12.7% moisture, 62 lbs./bu., and protein at 12%. No yields from the weekend have been reported, although it is predicted that harvest will move rather quickly with little wheat harvested based on abandonment in the western half.

Snyder- This region took in over 85,000 bushels of grain over the weekend, and harvest is just starting to move at full speed. Reports so far on test weights have been exceptional with most of the wheat weighing 60 lbs./bu. or better. There have been a couple loads where weights were running 58 lbs./bu. The quality of the wheat has not had much dockage. Yields in this area have been reported all over the board ranging from the low 20’s to mid 40’s. No proteins have been reported.

Altus/Lone Wolf- Test weights on the wheat in this region have been averaging 60 to 62 lbs./bu. Proteins on the wheat to this point have been ranging from 10.5 to 12.5%, with more of the wheat coming in at that 11.5 to 12% protein range. No yields have been reported, although it is predicted that harvest will move extremely fast due to decline in planted acres of wheat and abandonment from the drought.

Sentinel- As of Tuesday morning, one sample was tested, but the moisture was too high.  Producers are hopeful they will be able to start harvest within the next day or two in this region.

Clinton- As of Tuesday morning, no wheat had been taken in this region. 

Hinton-  As of Tuesday morning, no wheat had been taken in this region.

Union City- One sample was taken at 14% moisture as of Tuesday morning, so producers are  hopeful that within in the next day harvest will get rolling in this region.

Banner- As of Tuesday morning, no wheat had been taken in this region.

Okarche- Wheat harvest has begun in this region on Memorial Day, with a few loads received. Test weights on the earlier harvested wheat was lower with ranges from the mid 50’s to 58 lbs./bu. Protein averages on earlier reports are coming in much better than the past couple years with ranges of 12 to 14% being reported. No yields were reported at this time.

Kingfisher- Harvest began over the weekend in this region with test weights averaging anywhere from 60 to 62lbs./bu. Proteins have been reported from as low as 10.9% to as high as 14%. Most of the proteins are coming in at 11.5% or higher on this earlier harvested wheat. Some yields have been reported to be making in the mid 40’s on what has been received so far. Keep in mind, much of the wheat has been abandoned west of the Kingfisher trade territory due to the persistent drought conditions that have existed since October.

Omega- Harvest has begun in this region on some of the earlier planted and heavily grazed wheat. Yields on the earlier wheat were reported to be making in the low 20’s.  Test weights were being reported at 56 to 58 lbs./bu.  Protein on one load of wheat was reported at 17.4%, and that variety was Doublestop CL+.  Producers are hopeful they will get into wheat that have better test weights and yields in this area towards the end of the week.


May 13, 2018

oklahoma wheat field days

This month Oklahoma State University is hosting a series of free wheat field days across the state. Dr. David Marburger is a small grains extension specialist with OSU.

Click here to download mp3 soundbite

Marburger said each wheat field day will feature 20-30 different varieties of wheat. The idea is to compare performance across different areas.

Click here to download mp3 soundbite

Again, these wheat field days are free and will be held all across Oklahoma. If you'd like more information, Marburger said you have a couple of options.

Click here to download mp3 soundbite

Dr. David Marburger with Oklahoma State University. Those web addresses are wheat.okstate.edu and osuwheat.com.

Reporting for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I'm Don Atkinson.


April 25, 2018

wheat field day in walters, oklahoma

The first OSU extension wheat field day was held just outside of Walters, Oklahoma. Dr. David Marburger is a small grains extension specialist with Oklahoma State University.

Click here to download soundbite

Marburger said that this area around Walters is somewhat unique from a moisture perspective. He said they didn't get a lot of rain but what they did get was timely.

Click here to download soundbite

And that's helped the yield potential. Marburger said the wheat fields around Walters could average 30 to 40 bushels per acre.

Click here to download soundbite

This wheat field day was the first of over 30 to be held across Oklahoma. Marburger said all the information you'll need to attend can be found online.

Click here to download soundbite

Dr. David Marburger with Oklahoma State University.

Reporting for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I'm Don Atkinson.


April 13, 2018

Crop Insurance and Food Security

Nestled in the red dirt plains of southwest Oklahoma is a small town by the name of Sentinel. Right now, their most famous resident is Jimmie Musick, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, seen here with his wife, Judy. Just a few weeks ago, Musick wrote an editorial that appeared in The Oklahoman newspaper called, “Crop Insurance Protects Farming For Future Generations”.

     Q: “...and their yield.”  Click here to download the mp3 file

But that may be about to change. Musick said that the next Farm Bill could have the government paying a smaller percentage of crop insurance and shifting that burden to farmers.

     Q: “...work for everybody.”  Click here to download the mp3 file

Which is a point that Musick made in his editorial. He’s a fifth generation farmer with the next generation already lined up. That’s grandson Colt Musick standing next to him. This farm has been handed down many times, something Musick says wouldn’t have been possible without crop insurance as a safety net.

     Q: “...what it’s all about.”  Click here to download the mp3 file

Jimmie Musick from Sentinel, Oklahoma. President of the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Reporting for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I’m Don Atkinson.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this story


April 9, 2018

Taking Mesonet From Home To Mobile

A lot of us begin our day by checking the Mesonet website. On the off chance you don’t know what Mesonet is, it’s a weather agronomy site. One mouse click gives you current conditions, a weather forecast and other data like soil moisture, rainfall totals and a county-by-county drought update.

     Q: “...operational in 1994.”  Click here to download mp3 file

Wes Lee is the OSU Ag Mesonet Coordinator.

     Q: “...other data points.”  Click here to download mp3 file

And that sounds like some pretty high tech stuff, especially considering that it was started nearly a quarter century ago. But Mesonet is about to pull off another high tech trick: taking the home experience and shrinking it down to fit into your pocket.

     Q: “...platform as we can.”  Click here to download mp3 file

And the way to do that is by creating two versions of the Mesonet: one for home and one for mobile. Many websites are already doing this. If you go to Youtube on your smartphone, look at the web address and you’ll notice a lowercase “m” at the beginning. That indicates you’re on the mobile version of the website. Lee said they’re working on the same thing for Mesonet.

     Q: “...one to the other.”  Click here to download mp3 file

Wes Lee with the Mesonet. If you’d like to check out their website, go to www.mesonet.org.

Reporting for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I’m Don Atkinson.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this story


April 5, 2018

Webinars to Wheatinars

If you have questions about wheat production, you can get the answers without even leaving your home.

It’s a webinar series for wheat growers and all you need to attend is an internet connection.

Dr. Brian Arnall with Oklahoma State University.

     Q: “...already been sent in.”  Click here to download mp3

The webinar series uses free conferencing software known as Zoom, Z-O-O-M, which is easy to install. Once you’ve joined the webinar, you can ask questions by text or video.

Arnall said the first episode was very informative and they’ll feature different experts each week.

     Q: “...what’s going on.”  Click here to download mp3

Dr. Brian Arnall, Precision Nutrient Management with Oklahoma State University.

To get more information about the series, go to Google and type in “wheat update webinar”, then click on the first link that says “OSU small grains extension”.

The wheat update webinar is scheduled for every Monday in April at 8:30a.

Reporting for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I’m Don Atkinson.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this story


April 4, 2018

Tit-For-Tat Tariffs in Possible U.S./China Trade War

Back in early March, president Donald Trump announced tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from China. Then, in early April, another set of U.S. tariffs were announced for Chinese electronics, aerospace and machinery products. As expected, China responded with $50 billion dollars worth of tariffs on more than a hundred U.S. products, including pork and soybeans.

Dr. Brian Adam, an economist at Oklahoma State University, said the concern is less about the tariffs and more the possible ripple effect on other commodities.

     Q: “...have a ripple effect.”  Click here to download mp3 file

According to the White House, the tariffs are designed to penalize China for discriminatory policies that put U.S. companies at a disadvantage in the Chinese market.

Adam says the proposed tariffs are relatively small, meaning that both countries could be posturing ahead of potential trade negotiations in the future.

     Q: “...more than that.”  Click here to download mp3 file

Dr. Brian Adam with Oklahoma State University.

Wong Shou-Win, the vice-minister of commerce for China, said (quote) “If someone wants a trade war, we will fight to the end. If someone wants to talk, our door is open.”

Reporting for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I’m Don Atkinson.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this story


March 29, 2018

A Dry Winter and A Wetter Spring

In Oklahoma last year most of the state received plenty of moisture until October. That’s when it was like somebody turned the faucet off. In this case that somebody was called La Nina.

Albert Sutherland is with the Oklahoma Mesonet service.

     Q: “...a wetter pattern.” (Click here to download mp3)

And, in fact, we’ve already seen some early Spring showers. Sutherland says it was a good soaking rainfall but it missed some of the worst Oklahoma drought areas.

     Q: “...they’re in great shape.” (Click here to download mp3)

And it looks like more rainfall could be on the way. Sutherland says that we’re shifting from La Nina into a neutral pattern for the Spring. That means a return to more typical rain patterns and temperatures.

Albert Sutherland is the OSU Mesonet Agriculture Coordinator.

For the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I’m Don Atkinson.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this story


March 26, 2018

Fixing The Grain Glitch

by Don Atkinson

When the U.S. Congress passed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act in late December, they included a provision, Section 199A, concerning farmer sales. The new deduction allowed farmers to deduct 20 percent of their gross sales from their taxes if they sold to a farming cooperative. But if farmers sold to corporations, they could only deduct 20 percent of their net income.

The intention of Section 199A was to replicate tax benefits found in the previous Section 199 but instead created a disparity between cooperatives versus non-cooperatives. This unintended consequence quickly became known as “The Grain Glitch”. Agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau, called on Congress to change the provision.

Dr. Phil Kenkel is a Regents Professor and Bill Fitzwater Endowed Cooperatives Chair with Oklahoma State University.

“It’s called ‘The Grain Glitch’ because the grain cooperatives are kind of unique in that they really have no contracts and most of the farmers have multiple outlets,” he said. “If you look at the speciality crops and some other areas, people usually do business  with one firm like their cooperative if they’re a member. In the grains area this could really be a competitive advantage that could move producers delivery decisions (to cooperatives).”

Veronica Nigh, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), agrees.

“The disparity comes from the fact that pass-through business owners who belong to co-ops are currently able to take a deduction for 20 percent of qualified cooperative dividends received from agricultural or horticultural cooperatives – in addition to the pass-through business deduction described above. This provision would very likely incentivize farmers to sell their products to cooperatives rather than to a private or investor-owned company in order to receive a significantly larger tax deduction.”

As a result of this analysis, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee made changes to Section 199A retroactive to January 1, 2018.

According to Nigh, “A farmer who operates a pass-through operation and sells grain to a private company knows with certainty that they will receive a section 199a business deduction worth 20 percent of their net income from sales. A farmer who operates a pass-through operation and sells grain to a co-op knows that they will receive a section 199a business deduction, but will not know the full value of their deduction until they know how much their cooperative is passing through to patrons. The business deduction the farmer who sells to the cooperative receives will range between 11 percent and 29 percent of net income from sales, depending on both their operation’s W2 wages and the size of the deduction passed through to them by their cooperative. The variability of the deduction re-balances the competitive landscape and makes it similar to the one that existed prior to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

Again, Dr. Kenkel: “Under the new Section 199A they eliminate any deductions on profits or distributions from coops, so that eliminated the most controversial part. All farmers get a 20 percent pass-through deduction so if you deliver your grain to a investor firm you’d get a 20 percent deduction off your farm income. If you deliver your grain to an agricultural cooperative you get the 20 percent (deduction) but they reduce that by either nine percent of the farm income or half of your W-2 wages. The intent was, in my opinion, to create an offset so that the deduction that the cooperative was getting would be offset on the farmer side so that it would be a level playing field.”

The changes made to Section 199A were added to the Omnibus Spending Bill passed and signed into law on Friday, March 23.

As AFBF announced in a press release, “Grain Glitch No More!”

Don Atkinson is a communications specialist with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this story.


March 26, 2018

Fixing The Grain Glitch

When Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late December 2017, they included a provision concerning grain sales.

If a farmer sold to a farming cooperative, they could deduct 20 percent of their Gross Sales.

But if they sold to a corporation, they could only deduct 20 percent of their Net Income.

This provision unintentionally favored coops over private elevators and so picked up the unfortunate nickname of the “Grain Glitch”.

Dr. Phil Kenkel is an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University.

     Q: “...called the Grain Glitch.” (Click here to download mp3)

But it was called something else too: unpopular.

Ag groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, called on Congress to do something about the provision.

That’s why the omnibus spending bill passed and signed into law on Friday, March 23rd, contained language to fix the glitch.

     Q: “...a level playing field.” (Click here to download mp3)

Even so, Kenkel calls the glitch fix an “imperfect solution” because nine percent of a Coop’s income doesn’t necessarily have any relationship to nine percent of farm income.

     Q: “...to pass that on.” (Click here to download mp3)

Dr. Phil Kenkel, agricultural economist, Regents Professor and Bill Fitzwater Endowed Cooperatives Chair with Oklahoma State University.

Reporting for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., I’m Don Atkinson.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this script


This article about us by Jack Money appeared in the March 20th, 2018, edition of The Oklahoman:

New Wheat Information Site Opens Online

The Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics Inc. have created a new source of news and information about the state's wheat industry.

Wheat Squared can be found online at wheatsquared.com, and also can be found on Facebook and Twitter using the handle @WheatSquared.

Officials said Wheat Squared's goal is to bring together lots of different information about the crop in one place so that wheat farmers and others can find it easily.

Wheat Squared is hosted by Don Atkinson, a 30-year veteran of farm news reporting. Besides stories, releases and market information, Wheat Squared also will feature a weekly podcast available on iTunes and any smartphone podcast app.

For more information, contact wheatsquared@gmail.com.

http://newsok.com/oklahoma-business-briefs-for-march-17/article/5587435


March 8, 2018

A First Look At Oklahoma Wheat

By Don Atkinson

Dr. Brett Carver, regents professor of wheat breeding and genetics, Oklahoma State University, is walking down a row of freshly mowed wheat in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

“Four!” he calls out. Nathan Stepp, OSU agronomist, follows along behind Carver. He quickly jots the number down in a notebook. Jason Ray, another OSU agronomist, glances at Stepp and then back down at the wheat.

“Four,” Carver says again. He pauses for a second and considers.

“Five,” Carver shakes his head. “Lots of late.”

These aren’t just random numbers Carver is throwing out. He’s evaluating the field based on a system from zero to five. Zero means “extremely early”, five “extremely late”. On this particular row of wheat most of the ratings have been fours with one five at the end. Carver shakes his head slightly and walks to the next row. Again he calls out numbers.

Carver has been walking this field for the past two hours. The sun is out and the sky is clear. If it wasn’t for the wind it would be a warm day. Instead, Carver is wearing a dark windbreaker and his hands are tucked firmly into his jeans pockets. Stepp and Ray are both in hoodies.

He starts a new row. Even though it’s immediately adjacent to the previous row Carver calls out zeros, ones and threes. In the space of three footsteps the wheat has gone from extremely late to extremely early.

Carver isn’t too surprised by what he’s seeing. He later tells me that some recent rainfall really made a difference in the field.

“This crop really came on strong after we got the rain two or three weeks ago. It looked pretty bleak out here. We’re cutting it now for the first time,” he says. “Normally every year we would’ve cut this ten times by now.”

Earlier in the day, Stepp and Ray made a circuit across the field on big riding lawn mowers. “Simulated grazing” in the words of Carver. Wheat planted this early would typically have cattle grazing to keep the top growth down. Carver says the mowing makes the field comparable to last grazing.

“Not the best simulation but it’s the best we can do,” he adds.

What happens next will be telling. Carver said that he’ll be watching the wheat field closely to see how it bounces back from the simulated grazing. His concern is susceptibility to disease.

“We’re probably going to have more barley yellow dwarf virus present in this nursery,” he said. “In the past we’ve had more leaf rust or stripe rust or both. Barley yellow dwarf is usually a big problem.”

“Why is that?” I ask.

With a nod, Carver indicates the field. “Because Stillwater is the barley yellow dwarf capital of the world. We can count on that disease more than any other disease, especially if we plant early. If we plant in October we still get a little bit of barley yellow dwarf but not as much.”

But, Carver says, it’s a great environment for research because they can select for a tolerance to that disease. “Stillwater’s good for that,” he adds.

Barley yellow dwarf is a virus transmitted by aphids. Each part of the name refers to something specific: “barley” because it infects, among other grains, barley and wheat; “yellow” because affected plants show a yellowing (sometimes reddening) of leaves; and “dwarf” because the virus can stunt plant growth and reduce yield.

I ask if this field is typical of other wheat fields in this area. Carver tells me it depends on moisture. Wheat that received some of the recent rainfall look like this field. The ones that didn’t look like this field did a month ago.

What this wheat field will look like in a month is the next question. This is the beginning of the replicated yield process. Carver said the field is made up of 2,500 lines, a collage of wheat varieties. Of those, 250 will be selected for yield trials next time.

Don Atkinson is a communications specialist for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this story

 


February 27, 2018

Rain and Stalled Wheat Germination

By Don Atkinson, Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

Wheat planted last year may not have germinated because of the lack of moisture. The most recent ice storm may change all that.

Dr. Brett Carver is a wheat breeder with Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

“We have research in several parts of the state where the seed is still sitting there in the ground,” Carver said. “My expectation at this point is we really need that seed to be germinated before the vernalization period starts. The vernalization period guarantees that the plant will turn reproductive and we have to have vernalization for that to happen. We have to have the plant turn reproductive to produce grain. I don’t know that we have to have those requirements met to have that happen between now and the time when it really needs to start flowering.”

If the seed gets a sudden infusion of moisture late in the growing season and begins to germinate, the resulting root and plant structure may not be developed well enough to support strong growth. Vernalization is when the seed is exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period. Vernalization will activate the reproductive process but may be limited by the lateness of germination. In architectural terms, it’s like building a house on a weak foundation. For the wheat plant, a shallow weak root system may not develop deeply enough into the soil profile to utilize all available moisture. From this point forward moisture demands in the plant will continue to increase as a more rapidly developing plant reaches maturity. Above ground the leaves and tillers may not fully develop for lack of moisture. The end result can be a smaller head and with fewer and/or smaller kernels.

“I wouldn’t say we’re out of the drought woods yet,” Carver said. “There are certain areas of the state, many parts of the state that need more moisture than what we’ve received through this last system and hopefully that’s coming because we’re entering a very important stage of the crop where it changes over from a vegetative state to a reproductive state. That requires a lot of energy and energy requires water input and right now we’re limited on that. These are yield-forming stages in the wheat crop and those yield-forming stages require inputs and water is right there at the top. We’ll take it frozen, not frozen, it doesn’t really matter as long as it enters the soil profile.”

Oklahoma wheat is typically planted sometime between late August and late October, depending on which part of the state you’re in. The seeds then “winter” (the aforementioned vernalization period) from approximately November to March and are harvested sometime between May and June. It’s that middle stage where a lot of the work is done. The seed projects a root system deep into the soil and a leaf and tiller structure above ground, or at least that’s what’s supposed to happen. It all depends on moisture.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that 4.1 million acres in Oklahoma will be planted to wheat. That’s down from 4.5 million acres in 2017 and five million acres in 2016. Oklahoma harvested area has also been falling: 89.1 million bushels in 2017 and 136.5 million bushels in 2016. The trend for Oklahoma wheat has been lower since 2016.

Don Atkinson is a Communications Specialist with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

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February 15, 2018

More Drought, Less Yield

By Don Atkinson, Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

The entire state of Oklahoma is experiencing some level of drought right. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, all of West Oklahoma and most of the panhandle are classified as D3 or Extreme Drought, just one notch under D4 or Exceptional, which is the worst drought category. Aside from portions of the Texas panhandle and parts of Arizona, the Oklahoma drought is the worst in the nation.

That’s bad news for Oklahoma wheat growers who planted sometime between late August and late October. The crop is in the wintering stage right now and the lack of moisture could hurt yields once harvest begins in May and June.

Mark Hodges, executive director for Oklahoma Genetics, Inc., said he’s worried that growers won’t be able to harvest enough wheat to break even based on crop conditions today and the current price of wheat.

“There are a lot of areas that have gone from 120 to 130 plus days, they haven’t had any significant moisture. Whatever root system did develop and whatever tiller system did develop have either died or are  in a very desperate situation trying to stay alive.”

Once planted, wheat seedlings imbibe (a.k.a. “absorb”) water from the soil to begin germination and establish a root system. But without the proper soil temperature and adequate moisture, the roots may not push deep enough to anchor the wheat plant for the growing season ahead.

As roots are developing under the soil, the plant is busy above ground pushing up leaves and tillers. These tillers have the potential to develop into grain-bearing heads.  As with the root structure, lack of adequate moisture can cause tillers to be sloughed off by the plant.

“If you don’t have the root system under the plant whenever hot, dry winds come, that plant’s not going to be able to carry on photosynthesis like we’d like it to.  The plant begins shutting down because it can’t pull enough moisture because of lack of root system.”

Hodges said the concern is that wheat plants will expend energy trying to stay alive and not have enough reserves left over to allocate for head development and kernel production.

Don Atkinson is a Communications Specialist with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc

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February 14, 2018

Market Access Program

By Don Atkinson, Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

Creating markets overseas for U.S. agricultural products and commodities is such a big job that no one organization has the resources needed to tackle it alone. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service uses the Market Access Program (MAP) to partner with trade associations, cooperatives and other organizations to cost-share efforts to develop commercial export markets.

Mike Schulte, executive director for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, was in Washington, D.C. representing U.S. Wheat Associates and talking to lawmakers about the benefits of MAP.

“In 2015 analysis of the wheat industry showed that wheat farmers received $45 in net revenue for every dollar invested in export promotion,” Schulte said. “These programs certainly provide benefits to the entire agricultural supply chain.”

Under MAP, U.S. Wheat Associates received $6,081,995 in 2017. The program is funded through the Farm Bill. Each year the U.S. Department of Agriculture accepts applications for export development program funding. According to USDA, “Through MAP, FAS will provide $171.8 million to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 171-percent match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.”

“We know these programs work,” Schulte said. “In the U.S. wheat industry we have representation in 100 countries worldwide with our foreign offices that are trying to work with these millers and bakers and if we did not have these offices in place it’s only a matter of time before Russia and Australia will utilize their people and their offices in place and then we won’t have any market share at all in these countries.”

For 2018 USDA has allocated $173,802,447 for MAP. More information about the program can be found at https://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/market-access-program-map.

Don Atkinson is a Communications Specialist with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

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February 13, 2018

Wheat For Peace

By Don Atkinson, Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

In 1954 president Dwight Eisenhower signed into law P.L. 480, the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, which created the Office of Food for Peace. The program originally created a framework under which surplus U.S. agricultural commodities could be donated to food-deficient countries or to allow cash-strapped countries the ability to purchase food in their own currency instead of U.S. dollars.

The food aid program has evolved over the subsequent decades with changes made by presidents Kennedy, Bush and Obama. In the last 10 years the program was expanded to allow for cash donations along with or in place of food donations.

Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and chairman of the Food Aid Working Group Committee for U.S. Wheat Associates, said some of those reforms needed to be made, “however we feel like there are still wonderful opportunities for us to use food in these programs when countries need them, if there’s a natural disaster situation such as what’s going on in Yemen right now or even in Haiti after the hurricanes.”

But the program has its share of critics. The conservative Heritage Foundation writes, “U.S. law requires most P.L. 480 food assistance be purchased from U.S. producers and shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels. This policy of purchasing food in the U.S. and shipping it thousands of miles to a crisis location is inefficient, costly, and shortsighted.”

Schulte said the shipping requirements can be difficult sometimes. “There have been some issues when there is a natural disaster of getting food on the ships and then when you work with the maritime industry, there are some rules currently where half of the exports have to be on U.S. flag vessels and then after they meet that requirement they can use foreign flag vessels. We are having some issues with cost of U.S. flag vessels versus foreign flag vessels and so we have to work through those issues.”

Schulte said U.S. Wheat Associates is working on recommendations for the most efficient way to deliver much-needed food aid as quickly as possible. He was in Washington, D.C. recently talking to lawmakers on behalf of U.S. Wheat Associates and the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

According to the federal USAID office, the Food For Peace program has benefitted more than four billion people since 1954.

Don Atkinson is a Communications Specialist with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and Oklahoma Genetics, Inc.

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