Farmers get tips on maximizing wheat yield

By Rick Carpenter -

Farmers from the area heard a review of the current status of Oklahoma’s wheat crops and ongoing research by Oklahoma State University, some as close as Altus and Tipton, during an informational meeting by the Oklahoma Wheat Growers’ Association Tuesday at the Southwest Technology Center in Altus.

David Marburger, a small grains extension specialist at OSU, said Oklahoma has a reputation for having “dirty wheat.” He pointed out that in recent samples Oklahoma’s wheat had 68 percent more dockage and foreign matter than Kansas wheat. He talked about the need to raise the protein level of the grain to get higher prices for the grain and turn Oklahoma’s wheat reputation around.

He blamed that reputation of lower prices for wheat on an increase of savvy, intellectual buyers and stricter export standards.

He said growers got into this position because they graze cattle on their wheat, don’t rotate crops and have an over-reliance on herbicides.

Marburger said growing quality wheat depends on using quality seeds and he talked about the importance of keeping seeds pure. He said to look for seeds that provide high yields that match individual systems and have been tested in a variety of fields on your farm. Look for a known variety with good germination and vigor that produces large kernel size that has been free of weeds and disease, he said.

Marburger said during the fall grazing season, cattle could be introduced to fields between 45 and 60 days after planting wheat. He said in the fall, stocking rates should be between 250 and 600 pounds of animals per acre. But he warned that overgrazing can result in winter kill, lower spring forage and lower grain yield.

He also discussed the timing of putting nitrogen and fungicides in the fields to increase yield.

In a separate presentation, Brett Carver, a wheat breeder specialist, discussed a study his group has been working on to find a way to use less nitrogen while maintaining high protein in the kernels. The study currently has sites across the state, including Altus, that are testing ways to maximize yield at low nitrogen application with minimal protein loss.

During the meeting, the association introduced Jimmie Musick of Sentinel who will become the president of the National Association of Wheat Growers during the Anaheim Farmers Commodity Classic beginning at the end of February.

Musick said meetings like Tuesday’s gives farmers an opportunity to learn about new research and varieties of grain and to visit with other farmers to see what’s going on in the real world of agriculture.

By Rick Carpenter

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