I thought I would share a couple of visual greenness maps sent to me by JD Carlson in Biosystems and Ag Engineering. These are from the Oklahoma Mesonet fire danger model site and provide a visual estimate of green vegetation for mid January 2012 (top) and 2013 (bottom). Note the stark contrast in greenness throughout the wheat belt of western Oklahoma. As indicated in the 2013 map, there are some small pockets of wheat with ample stands and average yield potential, but these are not large enough to make up for all of the red.
There are more questions than answers when it comes to application of drilling mud to agricultural land. The list of questions expands when the drilling mud is being applied to an established annual crop, such as wheat. We simply do not have enough information to know how a growing crop will respond to drilling mud application from different sources and at different application timings.
If current conditions continue it is highly likely that many Oklahoma wheat farmers will rely on crop insurance to cash flow through 2013. Therefore, wheat farmers should check with their crop insurance provider prior to applying drilling mud to established wheat to see how application of these materials will affect their coverage. Tenants should discuss application of drilling mud with landowners and it is a good idea to address these issue in writing in the lease agreement.
It finally rained! Rainfall totals in western Oklahoma (0.1 to 0.3 inches) will not put a dent in the drought, but were probably enough to induce germination of seed resting in dry soil. Oklahoma weather is extremely variable, and who knows when temperatures will warm enough to spur along the germination process. If we retain the recent moisture and have something close to a “normal” year, it is likely that we will see wheat popping through the soil in mid February. I compared February sown winter wheat to spring wheat in a trial at Newkirk, OK a few years ago. The winter wheat made about 15 bu/ac and the spring wheat made about 20 bu/ac. This was in a favorable year that was not plagued by drought. Given current weather trends, a best case scenario for February emerging winter wheat is 50% of normal yield. A worst case scenario is 0 – 10% of normal yield. If I were wagering, I would place my money on 20 – 30% of normal yield potential.
The rainfall might be enough to help emerged wheat west of I-35 survive, but that is about it. Soil moisture is still insufficient to produce a recovery and I would still proceed cautiously regarding inputs on these acres. The rain might have indeed been too little, too late for these acres. IF soil moisture gets recharged by mid February and IF we have a mild spring these acres could have some secondary tillering and make a moderate recovery; however, the odds are against this scenario.