Experts say this year's wheat crop should be about 60% of last year's

Wednesday, May 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) _ A lack of rain will probably shrivel this year's wheat harvest to about 60% the size of last year's crop, agriculture forecasters said after a tour of the state's wheat fields.

Agriculture experts took stock of the state's wheat farms Tuesday during the 21st Annual Oklahoma Wheat Crop Tour.

Forecasters estimated the crop will yield 87.168 million bushels this year, compared to last year's harvest of 146.2 million bushels.

Agronomist Roger Gribble said a good shower of rain could increase yields in north central Oklahoma, but rain probably won't help things in southwestern Oklahoma.

``We may be past the point of no return there,'' said Gribble, with the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service.

Of the 5.4 million acres planted, 3.4 million acres are expected to be harvested at an average of 25.7 bushels per acre, experts said.

Last year, producers harvested 4.4 million of the 6.1 million acres planted at an average of 35.29 bushels per acre.

While grain industry representatives said Kay and Grant counties should yield 30 to 35 bushels per acre, prospects are dimmer in parts of Tillman, Commanche and Cotton counties, said Mike Cassidy of Cassidy Grain.

That area had 40 inches of rain from October to February and has only received about half an inch since then, he said. That meant that only 40 percent of the normal crop got planted and about half of that won't be harvested.

Cassidy said that in areas farmers were able to plant, the crops should yield an average of 25 bushels per acre.

Yields were expected to be lower in the west, with counties such as Roger Mills and Woodward expected to come in at 18 bushels per acre.