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Unpredictable weather made 2023 tough for farmers as they look toward a wetter 2024

National Weather Service

Oklahoma farmers are looking forward to a new year after much weather variability, and many in the agriculture industry are hoping for the wetter conditions El Niño typically brings.

Timely rains helped the wheat, cotton, corn and soybean crops in Oklahoma this year.

The state’s wheat crop had better-than-expected results because of precipitation during harvest, according to the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Extension. But it still had below-average production and Mike Schulte, director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said production was based on location and wetter conditions would be welcome.

“Well, it was a really tough year last year for producers overall, just with the long-term drought,” Schulte said.

Recently, cotton producers finished their harvest and while the yields are below average, Oklahoma ranks 10th for cotton exports nationally, according to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry.

Harvey Schroeder, the retired executive director of the Oklahoma Cotton Council, said farmers planted about 570,000 acres of cotton in the state and about half was harvested.

“Dryland cotton crops are made off of wet winters,”Schroder said. “Where the winter puts down a moisture and then you have a subsurface moisture you can live on for quite a while.”

Although a couple of crops had below-average production, Kim Anderson, an OSU extension crop marketing specialist, said prices remained high. He also said some crops had different outcomes because of rainfall. For instance, soybeans had a relatively low yield and corn had above-average yields.

“Looking at our major crops, on every one of them is the weather variability that was the big thing,” Anderson said.

In Oklahoma, there is a wide range of weather during the growing season, especially for wheat because it is planted in the winter and harvested in the summer. Anderson said more precipitation could help ease the impacts of drought from the past several years and provide moisture deeper in the soil.

El Niño is expected to go through the winter and last until April, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

Oklahoma farmers are looking forward to a new year after much weather variability, and many in the agriculture industry are hoping for the wetter conditions El Niño typically brings.

Timely rains helped the wheat, cotton, corn and soybean crops in Oklahoma this year.

The state’s wheat crop had better-than-expected results because of precipitation during harvest, according to the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Extension. But it still had below-average production and Mike Schulte, director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said production was based on location and wetter conditions would be welcome.

“Well, it was a really tough year last year for producers overall, just with the long-term drought,” Schulte said.

Recently, cotton producers finished their harvest and while the yields are below average, Oklahoma ranks 10th for cotton exports nationally, according to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry.

Harvey Schroeder, the retired executive director of the Oklahoma Cotton Council, said farmers planted about 570,000 acres of cotton in the state and about half was harvested.

“Dryland cotton crops are made off of wet winters,” Schroder said. “Where the winter puts down a moisture and then you have a subsurface moisture you can live on for quite a while.”

Although a couple of crops had below-average production, Kim Anderson, an OSU extension crop marketing specialist, said prices remained high. He also said some crops had different outcomes because of rainfall. For instance, soybeans had a relatively low yield and corn had above-average yields.

“Looking at our major crops, on every one of them is the weather variability that was the big thing,” Anderson said.

In Oklahoma, there is a wide range of weather during the growing season, especially for wheat because it is planted in the winter and harvested in the summer. Anderson said more precipitation could help ease the impacts of drought from the past several years and provide moisture deeper in the soil.

El Niño is expected to go through the winter and last until April, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.


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Copyright 2023 KOSU. To see more, visit KOSU.

Anna Pope