Vic Schoonover, who keeps up with cotton prospects for North Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas Cotton, Inc. (NTOK) and canola for Producers Cooperative Oil Mill in Oklahoma City, said a lot of winter canola has been swathed in Oklahoma now, waiting to be harvested.

“Hail harmed some of it, particularly in the Okarche and Kingfisher areas. Gene Neuens with Producers Cooperative Oil Mill says farmers may still see a pretty good return even if some of the canola seed has been shattered on the ground.

“He’s predicting yields of 1,500 to 1,600 pounds per acre with most of the crop waiting to be harvested. In Southern Oklahoma, many acres of canola have been lost to drought and weeds and insurance has not been helping. He (Neuens) said canola is doing well in comparison to wheat. One wheat field in Tillman County yielded 25 bushels an acre in a very dry year primarily because it followed winter canola. In the same field where wheat followed wheat the previous year, yield was only 10 bushels per acre.”

Wheat yields are a mixed bag. “Some farmers in Jackson County had wheat receiving very little rain from January to April, 2011, and still made yields of 23 bushels to 27 bushels per acre in no-till fields,” Schoonover said.

“A lot of wheat was grazed out; extreme drought conditions brought yields of 9 bushels to 19 bushels in many areas. Around Bessie, Okla., two small fields of wheat yielded 30 bushels and 40 bushels. Probably isolated showers fell just at the right time.”

He said wheat harvest in Oklahoma is about 25 percent complete, according to Plains Grain, Inc.

Randy Boman, OSU Extension cotton program director, discussed the cotton situation:

“Near Altus,” Boman said, “only about 22 percent of normal rainfall has fallen since Jan. 1. Other areas, generally west of a line from Davidson, Tillman County, to Snyder, Kiowa County, to Elk City, Custer County, on I-40 west, have had a difficult May. Rainfall in other areas where cotton was planted under center pivots received considerable amounts of rain and in some areas, questions were asked about the need to replant.

“Even after badly needed rainfall, both dryland and irrigated fields in the drier western areas have experienced significant moisture loss in the upper soil profile and plantings are sometimes being lost due to severe environmental conditions.”

Schoonover said Boman believes farmers still have time to get a dryland cotton crop going but a large amount of dryland acreage remains under drought pressure. “Farmers in some areas were able to plant after rain storms on May 19 and 20, and plants in those fields are emerging.”

Schoonover said he’s seen only one field of young grain sorghum east of Altus, in the irrigation district. “It needed some moisture. The young plants are turning a light green and beginning to shrivel under the hot southwest winds. We have had more continuous hot, dry winds from the southwest than I can remember with average wind speed nearly 40 miles per hour, not counting the gusts. And these winds have continued to blow after dark, when the wind in this country usually settles down.”

Schoonover said a lot of farmers are taking advantage of grazing CRP fields with the new USDA allowances.

“Native pastures that greened up after the May 19 and 20 rains in Southwest Oklahoma are now browning up again. Stock water in natural ponds has not become a major problem yet in the southwest corner of the state, but farther north and west ponds have been drying up since late winter. Not many beef cow herds are to be seen, but that is probably due to the high cattle prices; a lot of cows and replacement heifers have been sold.”