ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma farmers planted the same amount of wheat for the 2020 crop year as they did last year.

Figures from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service show wheat seedings in the state are forecast at 4.2 million acres, the same as for the 2019 crop year. That number is down slightly from the 4.4 million acres planted in wheat for the 2018 crop year.

Low prices for wheat have had an impact on planting, said Josh Bushong, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service northwest area agronomy specialist.

“Wheat acres are about the same mainly due to the low price outlook of the wheat grain market,” Bushong said. “There has been an uptick in dual-purpose and graze-out acres, instead of about half the Oklahoma wheat acres grown for grain only. These producers are trying to take advantage of the livestock market or grain and livestock to make ends meet.”

In the NASS crop progress and condition report released Jan. 2, 41% of Oklahoma’s wheat crop was listed in fair condition, with another 16% in poor shape. Another 39% was rated in good condition, with 1% excellent. The remaining 3% was listed in very poor condition.

Kansas remains the top wheat-producing state, with 6.9 million acres planted in the crop for this year, according to NASS. That’s the same number of planted acres as last year, but considerably less than the 7.7 million acres planted for the 2018 crop year.

Texas bumped the trend, with Lone Star State farmers planting 4.9 million acres in wheat, up from 4.5 million acres in the 2019 crop year.

Nationwide, farmers planted 30.804 million acres in wheat, down from 31.159 million acres for the 2019 crop year.

NASS figures were pulled from data collected during the December 2019 Agriculture Survey.

At this stage of its development, the wheat crop in the Enid area could use some warmer weather, Bushong said.

“So far, the wheat crop started out slow and lacked adequate grazing potential until mid-November,” he said. “It has picked up as winter continued, but overall wheat pasture has been sub-average. Much of the lack in forage produced has been mostly due to cold soil and for some short durations of drought.

“Wheat will continue to grow when soil temperatures rise into the 50s. Sunshine is much needed. This past storm system was needed for moisture, but warm temps are needed more.”

Meanwhile, the number of Oklahoma acres planted in canola continues to fall.

Oklahoma farmers planted 12,000 acres in canola for the 2020 crop year, according to NASS. That’s down 66% from the 35,000 acres planted for the 2019 crop year and 70,000 acres for the year before. Oklahoma canola production peaked in 2014, when 270,000 acres was sown.

Kansas farmers followed suit by planting 15,000 acres, down from 29,000 for the 2019 crop year and 47,000 the year before.

“Canola is still seen by many as a great rotational crop for wheat producers,” Bushong said.

“Low prices have reduced canola acres far more than wheat. Canola can be a higher-risk crop, so many producers have shown they would rather stick with wheat even if market outlooks/budgets are just a tight.

“If prices come back, acres will come back. Agronomically, producers would welcome more winter-hardy varieties, as well as more shatter tolerance to make straight harvesting a more consistent option.”

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Kevin Hassler is associate editor of the Enid News & Eagle.

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