Wheat harvest continues to show high yields and test weights in central, northern and Northwest Oklahoma as it nears completion.
Favorable weather has kept the harvest quick and relatively easy for producers as the state reaches 90% completion.
Mike Schulte, Oklahoma Wheat Commission executive director, said it has been one of the fastest harvests the state has seen in a long time.
“Given everything that is going on with (COVID-19) and those issues, it has just been one less thing that producers haven’t had to stress about,” Schulte said. “It has been kind of nice.”
Test weights in Northwest Oklahoma continue to impress with averages around 62 to 64 pounds per bushel. Normal test weight is 60 pounds per bushel.
Areas north and west of Enid are showing test weights around 64 pounds per bushel.
“We have had some incredible test weights as high as 66 and 67 pounds (per bushel),” Schulte said. “I have talked to a lot of producers in the state, and we have always had 63 and 64 pounds, but to have a 66 or 67, that’s kind of unheard of.”
Enterprise Grain President Brady Sidwell said the test weights this year have been “phenomenal.”
Yields have continued to be great as well, averaging from 45 to 65 bushels per acre.
However, your outlook on the harvest depends on what region you are in, Schulte said.
Due to a late freeze in south central and southwest Oklahoma April 15, those producer’s crops have not fared as well as the northern area of the state.
“Central and northern Oklahoma probably are going to have one of the best crops that they have had in a long time,” Schulte said. “But if you are in south central and southwest Oklahoma it is probably going to be one of the worst crops that you have had in history.”
Statewide, due to how the freeze impacted the southern part of the Oklahoma harvest and the loss of crops in the Panhandle and other areas of the state, this will be an average year for Oklahoma’s wheat harvest overall, he said.
Protein percentages in the wheat continue to be a concern for producers.
Protein numbers are ranging from about 8% to 15.5%, Schulte said.
Mills and bakeries typically look for about 12% protein, and factor in the size of the kernel. Kernel sizes have been good in Oklahoma due to high test weights.
“I would say it has been a really good (harvest) actually, other than protein,” Sidwell said. “Definitely, test weight and yield-wise things have been good, but proteins are a big component of quality and protein, on average, I would say has been lower.”
Schulte still is hoping the protein average in Oklahoma will be around 11%.
Even if Oklahoma meets its 11% protein goal, Schulte is expecting challenges in the wheat market, especially when it comes to exporting.
“We certainly have had our challenges the last two years when it comes to working into the export market,” Schulte said. “We had lost a lot of our market in the far east because we did not have trade agreements in place. However, in March, based on trade agreements that we are solving with China, we have seen export shipments moving now to the far East, and we know that they are interested in our product.”
However, there has been a 3% to 4% increase in domestic flour use since March. COVID-19 has forced more Americans to cook from home and avoid going out to eat, which is causing the wheat industry to see increases in flour sales similar to what would be seen during the holiday season.
“It is certainly challenging times right now trying to get things to market,” Schulte said. “But, we are hopeful that we will see better prices later in the year.”