Oklahoma Wheat Harvest Suffering From Drought, Late Freeze

Monday, May 12th 2014, 4:47 pm
By: Craig Day

Monday's rain is welcome for farmers, but is too little, too late for Oklahoma's wheat crop. This year's crop is expected to be one of the worst produced in our state in decades.

With wheat having a $1 billion impact on the state economy, our poor crop is hitting Oklahoma especially hard.

"It should be another foot taller or whatever," said Derrick Jackson, wheat farmer.

A wheat crop north of Tulsa isn't as good as it could be, and won't yield near as much as a normal year, but with year after year of drought, especially in Western Oklahoma, it could be the envy of many wheat farmers in the state.

"This is not real great farm country here, but I can't imagine being out in the west there where they fight this stuff constantly," Jackson said.

Statewide, the forecasted harvest for wheat is terrible. The USDA predicts just 62 million bushels of wheat from Oklahoma this year. That's down from 105 million bushels last year.

"You're always optimistic that the next year is going to be the good year or whatever, but it starts to wear on you year after year, when it's, when it's tough going," Jackson said.

Farmer Derrick Jackson is grateful to produce any wheat at all, especially when farmers in central and western Oklahoma are suffering.

"It's a tough year here, but not near as tough as they got there, a lot of it out there is just 10 inches tall or whatever; they ain't going to make a crop," he said.

The average yield, or number of bushels produced per acre, is expected to be down about 40 percent from last year. Since hard, red wheat is Oklahoma largest plant crop, a horrible crop will cause a huge ripple effect in the state's economy.

"Especially in the smaller towns, you've got the equipment dealers, and basically everybody that deals with them, fuel companies, fertilizer dealers," said wheat farmer Derrick Jackson.

Drought is the biggest issue again, but a cold winter, followed by a late freeze this year also damaged the wheat.

"It's a tough business," Jackson said.

While the harvest and quality of wheat in the U.S. is poor this year, Jackson says worldwide production is still strong. So he says it's hard to tell yet what kind of impact the bad harvest will have on consumers in the grocery store.