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Too little, too late?

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David Marburger

David Marburger

Since April 2016, I have served as the Small Grains Extension Specialist at Oklahoma State University. My research and extension efforts focus on delivering science-based recommendations in order to increase small grains production and profitability for stakeholders throughout Oklahoma and the southern Great Plains.

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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.rainrfc.48hr


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