The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 17, 2013

Heavy rain idles combines

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — There was little damage reported from thunderstorms that rolled through the Enid area early Monday morning, but harvest probably will be delayed several days to allow wheat fields to dry out.

Some areas around Enid received a substantial amount of rainfall. Covington received about 2.8 inches of rainfall, and Fairmont received 3.5 inches, said Mike Honigsberg, certified director of Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management.

Roger Don Gribble, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service northwest area agronomist, said harvest probably will be set back three days.

West of Covington, there was some wind damage to machinery in the field and some roof damage, but Honigsberg said it was minor. A chance of rain remains in the forecast through Wednesday, according to National Weather Service.

At Johnston Grain, Joey Meibergen said harvesters were busy until Sunday night.

“The rain’s got them on hold. East of town they got a lot of rain and it will keep them out of the fields today, and maybe a couple of days,” Meibergen said Monday.

Producers were cutting heavily Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“From what I’ve seen so far, the wheat is better than we were expecting. We didn’t know what to think, but the yields and everything are better than what we thought,” Meibergen said. “The month of May made it for us.”

Gribble said the rain was good and bad.

“There were areas that were blessed with a little over 2 inches, which generally causes a delay of three to four days,” Gribble said. “We welcome the rain, but it’s pretty bad timing for wheat harvest.”

Wheat condition will depend on where a person is standing, he said. North of Enid, conditions are better than expected, while the crop south of Enid is what was anticipated, he said.

“The Sunday rain caused some areas to shut down early. Out west, they ran until about 8 p.m.,” he said.

The humidity also has been high, which prevented producers from working as late into the evening as usual.

Gribble said the quality of wheat won’t be hurt too much, but the crop will lose some test weight. However, the grain protein will be about the same. When wheat gets re-wet, he said, a condition called rain swell will result in decreasing the number of berries that are used to measure test weight, he said.

To grade No. 1 and collect a higher price, wheat must weigh at least 60 pounds per bushel, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Generally, you’re looking at two or three days without harvest, and if it rains more it just adds on,” Gribble said.

“The downfall is that the custom cutters, if they have a delay of two or three days, they may move on, or only leave a couple of combines here,” Gribble said.

However, he said its good there actually is wheat to cut. After five late freezes and drought conditions added on, he said it’s surprising there is much wheat to cut.

“I now know we can live through five freezes,” he said.

State farmers will produce an estimated 85.5 million bushels of wheat this year, according to Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association. That’s a bleaker outlook than offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which estimates 114 million bushels for Oklahoma.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service listed varied conditions for Oklahoma’s wheat crop. The latest report listed 18 percent of the crop in good condition, with just 1 percent as excellent.

Twenty-eight percent of the crop was listed in fair condition, while 53 percent was listed in poor or very poor condition.

Oklahoma Wheat Commission reported wheat harvest nearing completion in southern and southwest Oklahoma.

In its latest report, dated June 12, OWC reported harvest 70-80 percent complete in the Frederick area. Yields were reported to be 10-15 bushels an acre.

In the Lawton area, harvest is 70 percent complete, according to OWC, with yields averaging 20-25 bushels an acre.