Much of Oklahoma's Wheat Crop Damaged


Friday, April 17th 2009, 8:42 am
By: News On 6


By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9 for NewsOn6.com

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Oklahoma wheat producers are beginning to see the effects from a hard freeze earlier this month.

Oklahoma Wheat Commission Executive Director Mike Schulte said some fields suffered damage of up to 90 percent.

While consumers likely won't see any price jumps at the grocery store in the short term, Schulte said they will likely see price changes a few months from now.

Learn more about the Oklahoma Farm Report, broadcast on the Radio Oklahoma Network.

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Michael Peters of Okarche has been a wheat producer for 20 years. He said he's never seen his wheat crop look as bad as this year's crop.

"That's basically going to be zeroed out it's basically not going to make any grain at all," wheat producer Michael Peters said.

Peters estimates over 75 percent of his crop is damaged. He said he's lucky to have insurance but many wheat producers do not.

"You're looking at 60 percent of people who don't have insurance," Peters said. "It's going to be tough on them."

Schulte has spent the last few days examining damaged wheat.

"Here in central Oklahoma, King Fisher, we've had about 60 to 90 percent damage," Schulte said.

The following are estimates by the Oklahoma Wheat Commission of damage across the state:

  • Southern Oklahoma: 80-96 percent damage
  • Canadian County- 60 percent damage
  • Central Oklahoma- 60-90 percent damage
  • West Oklahoma- 50 percent damage
  • Lahoma- 40 percent damage
  • Northern Oklahoma- 15 percent damage

Schulte believes about 40 percent of producers don't have insurance to help cover their losses, adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Peters knows the cost of carrying insurance is worth it in the long run.

"You're looking at 60 percent of people who don't have insurance," Peters said. "It's going to be tough on them."

Each acre of wheat has about $200 invested in it this season. The high cost is blamed on high fuel costs from the summer and big fertilizer costs of the fall. Most wheat producers have at least 1500 acres.

The Oklahoma Wheat Commission reports that while a majority of the state's crop is damaged. There is still a good chance in the Northern section, but that will depend on the weather.

The crop there needs cool moisture.