The annual Hard Red Winter Wheat Quality Tour travels primarily Kansas, but Day 2 always includes a route into northern Oklahoma for sample some fields near the Kansas border.
This year, Mike Schulte from the Oklahoma Wheat Commission was part of the tour group and gave a report on what regional districts in Oklahoma are predicting for that state's wheat production this year, which is much, much better than the last few years.
Schulte said wheat in the southwest region of Oklahoma is about three weeks ahead of schedule and test cutting will likely begin by the end of next week and harvest in earnest will start around May 11. That region expects to harvest a little over 1 million acres with an average yield of about 38 bushels per acre.
The southeast region looks very good but has limited wheat production. It expects to harvest about 12,000 acres at 35 bushels per acre.
The northeast is healthy. Farmers utilized abundant fertility from failed crops last year as well as timely fertilizer and fungicide applications. Expectations are harvest of about 80,000 acres with yields of 40 bushels per acre.
In the Panhandle, irrigated wheat is expected to be the best in the last 6 to 8 years. The crop is about 2 weeks early. Subsoil is extremely dry, but harvest is expected to average 34.5 bushels on 715,000 acres.
The west central region is on track for the best harvest in the last several years, about 545,000 acres with an average yield of 41.9 bushels.
In central Oklahoma, observers are finding numerous white heads in wheat fields that may be from diseases, include dry root rot. There have also been reports of dying third berries and losses to hail storms. The region expects to harvest about 522,000 acres with average yields of 42.3 bushels per acre.
The north central west region expects its best harvest in the last several years, thanks to timely rains. Harvest will be early. Total acres are estimated at about 524,000 with an average yield of 41.5 bushels per acre.
In the north central east region, which includes Grant and Kay Counties, severe storms in recent days have taken a huge toll. Major swings in temperature have also created problems. The area recorded frost on April 23 but temperatures soared to 95 degrees on April 24.
In spite of that, production forecasts are for a harvest of about 42 bushels per acre average on 732,000 acres.
Overall, the state of Oklahoma, based on district reports, is expecting a harvest of about 164 million bushels on 4.15 million acres of hard red winter wheat.
"What I want to stress is that there is still three weeks to harvest," Schulte told the tour group. "So many things can happen in that last three weeks. At this point, we are optimistic."
The five-year average for Oklahoma is 11 million bushels, significantly less than this year's hoped-for harvest.
To meet its full potential, Schulte said the things most needed are rain in the northwest and cooler temperatures statewide for a few days to allow grain fill before ripening.