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· Wheat Grazing Prospects Dim says OSU's Dr. Peel
· To Graze or Grain? Producers Gear up for Wheat Planting Season
Wheat Grazing Prospects Dim says OSU's Dr. Peel
Oklahoma Farm Report
19 Sep 2022
Weekly, Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, offers his economic analysis of the beef cattle industry. This analysis is a part of the weekly series known as the "Cow Calf Corner" published electronically by Derrell Peel, Mark Johnson and Paul Beck. Today, Dr. Peel talks about winter stocker prospects in the midst of drought.
Most years, September would be occupied by lots of attention to wheat planting and budgets for winter grazing of stockers. However, the latest Drought Monitor shows that 99.97 percent of Oklahoma is abnormally dry or worse (D0-D4) with 48.81 percent in D3 and D4 (Extreme or Exceptional Drought). The three maps below from the Mesonet system show plant available water at 4-inch, 16-inch and 32-inch depths. The dark red and brown colors of the maps indicate that the soil profile of much of the state is very dry from top to bottom.
The USDA Crop Progress report for September 13 showed that 11 percent of Oklahoma wheat was planted, ahead of the five-year average of four percent for that date. I traveled across much of western Oklahoma last week and did see several planted fields and even a couple with wheat emerged. In many cases the wheat is being “dusted in”, planted in dry soil, hoping that rain will be forthcoming to germinate the wheat. Whether wheat is planted with enough moisture to germinate or is waiting for rain to emerge, the dry soil profile means that additional timely rains will be needed to sustain a wheat stand. The forecast for the next week or more is for unseasonably (maybe record!) warm temperatures with little chance of precipitation. Wheat grazing prospects look dim and risky this fall.
The widespread drought conditions mean that I have received far less than the usual number of questions about the economic prospects for winter stockers this year...
To Graze or Grain? Producers Gear up for Wheat Planting Season
Oklahoma Farm Report
19 Sep 2022
Drought conditions are still a major factor right now as producers strategize when and how much wheat to sow over the next few weeks.
A current lack of subsoil moisture limits wheat’s potential to sprout and germinate, and some farmers may decide to “dust in” wheat. The Oklahoma State University Extension fact sheet on planting dual purpose wheat explains dusting it in as a technique that plants seeds in shallow soil (less than 1 inch) in the hopes of rainfall later this fall.
Greg Hartman, agriculture and 4-H educator for Oklahoma State University Extension in Washita and Beckham counties, said in addition to the heat and dry climate, grasshoppers and armyworms are still present and could damage tender wheat seedlings. However, ranchers in desperate need of fall grazing pastures may already have some wheat in the ground.
“Everybody is getting anxious (to plant) as the days get shorter,” he said. “A lot of people think Sept. 15 is the optimal time to plant according to old timers, but it’s been proven by OSU researchers that whether you plant on Aug. 20 or Sept. 15, it’s all about on the same pace come Nov. 15.”
Only 15-20% of the wheat planted in Hartman’s area of western Oklahoma will be harvested for grain. The rest is used as a forage source for cattle. Hartman encourages producers to ask their county OSU Extension office for assistance in conducting a soil test before planting. Residual nitrogen and other minerals are common this year in soil results because of drought conditions.
Josh Bushong, OSU Extension area agronomist for the west district, explained on a recent episode of the Extension Experience podcast that nitrogen and residue management affect forage yields in wheat pastures.
“If you have a lot of residue from the previous wheat crop or failed summer crop, you’re going to have a harder time getting pasture established,” he said...
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