What is in this article?:
- Farmers look to cotton to replace freeze-killed wheat crop
- Recent rainfall
- Some farmers are waiting for insurance decisions.
- Variety decisions still a few weeks away.
- Cotton offers rotation advantages.
Cotton is the go-to crop Doug Scherler's family has chosen to offset the 100-percent loss of their frozen-out 2013 wheat acreage.
"The freezes we suffered in the last few weeks cost us our entire wheat crop," the Walters, Oklahoma, farmer said. "One hundred percent of our wheat was insured out.”
"We intend to plant 2,000 acres of cotton as soon as the weather is warm enough," he said. "This includes all of our family—Jeremy, my son, Stan, my brother, and Marvin, my father."
Scherler said some crop insurance companies have been reluctant to release farmers' wheat so they could decide what to do with the freeze-damaged crop. "We were fortunate our company gave us the go ahead on."
He said it is too early to make any decisions on what cotton varieties they will plant later this spring. "While we are waiting to choose individual cotton varieties, you can be sure they will be Roundup Ready varieties for better weed control."
Scherler had plenty of expert help in deciding how much freeze damaged his wheat crop. "Oklahoma State University agronomists examined our crop along with a lot of other wheat fields in Cotton County," he said. "They said the majority of the wheat they observed had been killed from the extreme cold weather."
Recent rains across southern and southwestern Oklahoma have provided farmers will much-needed soil moisture, even though a lot more rain is needed before spring planting season.
"We have had some welcome rain the last few days," said Scherler, who is a dryland farmer. "If it continues to rain on into summer, we will have a good chance to get a cotton crop started. But it sure needs to keep on raining."
Oklahoma's 2013 wheat crop had good potential before five successive state-wide freezes wiped out the crop's potential yield.
Mark Gregory, Oklahoma State University Extension area agronomist at Duncan, said the freeze, on top of the persistent drought which started in 2011, has put farmers in an especially difficult situation.
"Crop insurance is what has kept many farmers going for the past two and a half years," Gregory said. "This spring, we all thought the 2013 wheat crop had a lot of potential. Then extreme cold weather brought us freezing weather at the wrong time of the crop's development. These record-late freezes killed the developing heads in the wheat plants preventing farmers from being able to harvest the crop for seed."