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 — No cheating

One of the dominant factors in the growth of crop rotation is an increased demand to remove infestations of cheat, rye grass and feral rye from growers’ fields.

The problem of dealing with intruding grasses is not new to wheat farmers, but many elevators now require much cleaner wheat.

The answer, for many producers, has been to rotate out of wheat and into crops that will tolerate herbicides that can “clean up” the fields.

“It’s become more and more well-accepted by producers; we can manage those grassy weed issues by rotating into other crops,” Bedwell said.

He said many producers have gone beyond two-year rotations, implementing three- to five- or even six-year crop rotations.

“However a producer rotates crops, it’s not going to be a one-stop fix,” Bedwell said. “Those grassy weeds leave seeds in the soil for multiple years, and it takes multiple years of rotation to get the weed and rye seed bank worn out.”

Side benefits of rotation

Bedwell said many producers who turned to a wheat-canola rotation to control grassy weeds now are finding other advantages.

“Oftentimes, what I find is people like the synergism between the two crops, and they’ll see a bump in yield as wheat follows canola, or vice versa,” Bedwell said.

James Wuerflein has benefitted from that “bump” in yields that comes with crop rotation.

Wuerflein, who farms in Garfield County with his brother Richard, has made the move from mono-culture wheat to a continuous rotation of wheat and summer crops.

“Up until 15 years ago we were predominantly wheat, but in the last 15 to 16 years we started rotating our crops and no-till farming,” Wuerflein said.

He said he and his brother turned to crop rotation because they were having problems with grassy weeds and fungal diseases in their wheat fields.

“Continuously farming wheat was not working so well, and we were seeing more disease problems all the time,” Wuerflein said.

After listening to a presentation about crop rotation in the Panhandle, the Wuerfleins de-cided to try crop diversification in their operation.

“We experimented with crop rotation and no-till farming for the first few years, and it was working really well,” Wuerflein said. By the third year they had implemented a full no-till rotation on all their fields.

Wuerflein said they now farm in a rotation with half their fields in wheat, the other half in corn, soybeans, grain sorghum or milo. The fields planted in wheat are double-cropped with soybeans or grain sorghum.

“By rotating those crops you break the disease cycle,” Wuerflein said. “You hear a lot of people talk about planting canola to clean up their fields. To me, and I raise canola also, it’s not the canola that makes our wheat grow better, it’s breaking that disease cycle. Just getting away from that one crop for a year or two gives another mixture to your soil.”

Wuerflein said there’s no single-crop fix for diseases or weed problems.

“If you farm mono-culture of any crop over a multitude of years, you’re going to run into problems,” he said.

By rotating crops, Wuerflein said he has seen not only cleaner, healthier fields but increases in yield.

“Instead of getting the same crop every year, we’re getting three crops every two years,” he said.

The rotation also helps mitigate risks posed by weather.

“We’re spreading our risk out,” Wuerflein said. “We might have a bad wheat crop and a good milo crop, or vice versa.”

In a state where it is not uncommon for catastrophic weather events to destroy entire crops, spreading out the risk may be the greatest benefit of crop diversification.

“It gives a longer window to plant, and a longer window to harvest,” Wuerflein said. “And, hopefully somewhere in there we get good enough weather for something to grow.”

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

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  • 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