Oklahoma Soybean Crops Hurt By Drought

Monday, July 23rd 2012, 6:57 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The drought has gone on long enough now that many crops wouldn't recover even with rain, which isn't likely.

There's always a breaking point with crops when it comes to rain, a day when they can still be replanted or maybe come back with a decent yield.

For most farmers, that day has already passed.

Glenn Smalygo is a 71-year-old farmer, who lives just north of Skiatook.

It's too late for him to change careers, but if he had it do over, he wouldn't do this.

"I wouldn't encourage any young man or woman coming out of high school to go into agriculture," Smalygo said.

That's not because farming is inherently hard work—he doesn't mind that.

It's that no matter what you do, the weather can undo.

This year, the drought has stunted his crops and his income.

"It's been so long since I've had a good year, I don't have much to compare by, but it's going to be off by at least 30% from last year, gross income," Smalygo said.

The news gets worse by the day, with most places getting little rain since May.

Many of the crops planted later, like soybeans, are on the verge of failing.

This year, the hot, dry weather came earlier in the year than usual. The problem, now, is that even if it started raining, it's too late for crops like soybeans and hay."

"About all your hay is off a third on tonnage and the quality, well put it this way, burnt hay is better than no hay,' Smalygo said.

In one of Smalygo's pastures, which he normally would be cutting, there's not much there to cut. So, instead, he's using hay to feed his cows now.

There are some crops which are growing. Small grain crops that were planted early are making it, but overall, most crops aren't doing as well.

Smalygo summed up his year this way: "It's dry. It's been dry."

The USDA considers most hay and pastures to be in fair-to-poor shape. That's leading even more ranchers to sell their cattle, because of the costs of keeping them fed.