The Woodward News

November 10, 2012

Drought takes toll on crops

Gary Engel
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — OKLAHOMA CITY - Due to the persistent drought, it was hard to find many bright spots in the recent Oklahoma Crop Weather Report released by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Wilbert Hundl Jr., Director of the state NASS field office, said the dry conditions are taking a toll on crops and grazing conditions.

"Almost half of wheat was actually rated in fair condition, but 30 percent was identified as being poor to very poor," he said.

Some 24 percent of canola was rated similarly deficient, compared with just 8 percent the prior week.

"The combination of warm and dry weather hurt grasses, as well," Hundl said. "Topsoil moisture conditions continued their decline, with 88 percent of the content rated short to very short."



SOME GOOD NEWS

The news was good for some row crops in the NASS figures this week, Hundl revealed:

- 87 percent of sorghum, nearly all matured, had been harvested, 33 points ahead of normal.

- Soybeans reached their mature stage for 90 percent of the crop, and 63 percent had been harvested by Sunday. That was 11 points ahead of normal.

.- Virtually all remaining cotton stalks had bolls opening by the end of last week and the harvest was 59 percent complete. That was a healthy 21 points ahead of normal.

Alfalfa hay got its 4th cutting of the season this week, with 77 percent baled. No comparison with past results were included in the report.

"The second cutting of other hay wrapped up at 73 percent complete as this week began," said Hundl. "That was 10 percent below normal, but still 15 points ahead of last year."



FSA WAITING ON FARM BILL TO PROVIDE AID

Bowdy Peach, Executive Director of Woodward County's branch of the Farm Service Agency, said the agency needs a livestock feed assistance program right now.

"But we don't have a Farm Bill yet," he said. "(The new Farm Bill) is sitting on congressmen's desks."

No time for possible action on the bill has been identified, Peach said.

"I understand the disaster part of the bill has been rewritten, to add improvements." Peach said  when the new Farm Bill is approved, it could mean significant benefits to Woodward County producers.

"Last year, we received $1.2 million," he said.

The next possible milestone to get some type of assistance is March 15, 2013, when registrations are due for the NAP program.

NAP is essentially crop insurance for uninsurable items, like forage, explained Peach.

Peach said he would be glad to talk with interested producers about the situation who come by the USDA offices, 3300 Oklahoma Avenue. or who call him at (580) 256-7882, Extension 2.

View the entire NASS report at www.nass.usda.gov, or call Hundl at the NASS field office, toll-free, (800) 525-9226.