The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2012

April 7, 2012

Northwest Oklahoma is ripe for diversification

Farmers turning to other crops to keep wheat, yields healthy

ENID — For the better part of a century Oklahoma agriculture almost could be summed up in one word: wheat. Of course, Oklahoma farmers have been producing other crops since the first ground was broken, but crop diversification and the shift away from mono-culture wheat farming have accelerated in recent years as more growers have pursued opportunities to capitalize on management options and attractive market prices.

Down on the farm

Recent studies of the state’s wheat yields reflect the shift away from exclusively farming the familiar grain.

The 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture Annual Wheat Review shows Oklahoma at a 30-year low for wheat production, both in acres planted and bushels harvested.

Oklahoma wheat farmers planted more than 7.5 million acres of wheat in 1980, with 6.5 million acres harvested for grain, yielding 195 million bushels of wheat.

Those figures have declined steadily throughout the ensuing 30 years. In the 2010-11 growing season, the state had 5.1 million acres planted in wheat, with 3.2 million acres harvested for a yield of 70.4 million bushels.

That represents a 32 percent reduction in acres planted in wheat and a 64 percent reduction in bushel yield from 1980 to 2011.

Higher prices and an easing drought boosted wheat planting for the current season.

National Agricultural Statistics Service reported in January planted acres in Oklahoma were up 8 percent to 5.5 million acres.

However, in north central Oklahoma, planted acres were down to 1.34 million acres, compared to 1.45 million acres last year.

Area is able to diversify

Jeff Bedwell, Garfield County Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Center ag educator, said the decline in wheat production doesn’t represent a decline in agriculture planting but rather an increase in crop diversification.

Bedwell said producers increasingly are turning to crop rotation because of three factors: the need to rotate crops to control unwanted grasses in wheat fields; increased profit margins through rotation, based on market prices; and minimize risk based on current crop insurance products.

“Our ag producers have some flexibility in being able to make decisions based on the market, based on their need for diversification for weed control, and based on which crops will provide the best profitability,” Bedwell said.

He said many producers continue the practice of “double-cropping” winter wheat with summer crops like corn, soybeans, sesame, sunflowers and grain sorghum.

“We usually have adequate moisture to get a summer crop started in this region of Oklahoma, and that gives producers some flexibility in whether or not they double-crop behind wheat,” Bedwell said.

Last summer’s extreme heat and drought conditions weren’t conducive to agriculture of any sort, but the ensuing hay shortage may make alfalfa an attractive crop this fall.

“Alfalfa has become very popular as of late because of the high value of forage crops,” he said.

Bedwell said alfalfa also has gained popularity as a rotation crop because it helps replenish nitrogen in the soil.

Text Only
Progress 2012
  • onlineheader.jpg 2012 ON THE HORIZON

    The News & Eagle puts out an annual progress edition. This year's 2012 On the Horizon focuses on developments now and in the future. The stories in text format are available by scrolling down this page.

    Links to pdf format: Economic Development I Health and Wellness I Education I Northwest Oklahoma I Family I Faith I Agriculture and Energy I Community Service

     

    February 18, 2012 1 Photo

  • cover.jpg Community Service

    Enid News & Eagle's 2012 On the Horizon edition concludes with the role of community service.

    Click HERE for text version of the stories.

    Click HERE for pdf version of the edition.

    April 15, 2012 1 Photo

  • Chisholm vs Okeene_6_BV.jpg Chisholm seeks consistency

    August 19, 2012 1 Photo

  • Karen Vanover_Bass Hospital Volunteer_2_BV.jpg A positive interaction

    Karen Vanover and A.Z. Callicoat are past volunteers of the year at their respective hospitals, Vanover at Integris Bass Baptist Health Center and Callicoat at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • Sandbox Learning Center_Ella Mae Loggins_BV.jpg Foster Grandparents: The solver of all problems

    “It’s something to get up for in the morning." — Foster Grandparent Ella Loggins

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • Hedges_Carmen Ball_3_BV.jpg Hear this

    Hedges is committed to improving communications skills for those in need in northwest Oklahoma.
    Executive Director Carmen Ball said Hedges is the only full-service speech and hearing center in northwest Oklahoma.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos

  • Stephanie Ezzell_BV.jpg Doing their part for the community

    Stephanie Ezzell is active in the community in a number of capacities, including the popular Farmers Market, on the southeast corner of Grand and Garriott.

    April 14, 2012 1 Photo

  • Keepin' Enid Green_1_BV.jpg Sorting out the service

    The curbside recycling business began after Chris Feeney of Oklahoma Employment Securities’ Material Recovery, a recycling venture, repeatedly was asked why the option wasn’t available.

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • ESL_Emmanuel Baptist Church_4_BV.jpg Learning the language

    Volunteers at Emmanuel Baptist Church stepped up to fill that gap with free ESL instruction last January, and now they have hopes of expanding the program to better serve the community.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos

  • First Presbyterian Church Mentoring_1_BV.jpg Tutoring joy

    Each Wednesday after school, church members pick up students — there are 23 in this year’s group — and take them to the church building for a snack, some fun and plenty of homework help.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos