Oklahoma Wheat Production May Fall Further as Freeze Expected

Oklahoma wheat production, already expected to decline 45 percent from a year earlier, may fall further as freezing weather tonight threatens crops.

Temperatures may drop below freezing in northwest Oklahoma, southwest Kansas and eastern Colorado tonight, Commodity Weather Group said in a report today. The Oklahoma Wheat Commission said yesterday production will total 85.5 million bushels, down from 154.8 million a year earlier.

The production estimate may be “optimistic,” Mike Schulte, the executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said during an interview near Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. “A lot can happen between now and harvest and most of those things would not be favorable because of the current weather conditions.”

Crops this year have been damaged by the worst drought since the 1930s and freezing weather since plants emerged from winter dormancy last month. Hard, red winter varieties, used mostly to make bread, are grown from South Dakota to Texas.

“We’ve had five freeze scenarios between the last part of March and tonight, significant hail damage and extreme drought,” Schulte said. “All this that has come into play and has not factored into a favorable crop year. Crops have been extremely stresses all year long.”

Fields in central and southwestern Kansas and northern Oklahoma are expected to yield 40.5 bushels an acre, according to 75 participants on the Pierre, South Dakota-based Wheat Quality Council’s annual three-day tour of the hard-red winter wheat crops. Final yield estimates for the state will be presented at the Kansas City Board of Trade today.

About 75 producers, grain traders and agronomists have been examining fields in Kansas and northern Oklahoma. A separate group of agronomists and crop consultants toured Oklahoma fields on April 29 and 30.

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