OKLAHOMA CITY - Favorable growing conditions has helped wheat and other crops progress ahead of their usual pace.  

That's according to a report from Wilbert Hundl Jr., the state director of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

"Wheat and canola conditions continued to improve, according to the latest data," Hundl said. "Over 40 percent of the wheat crop and almost three-fourths of the rye crop was heading by the end of last week."

Hundl explained that heading is when heads form on a wheat stalk.

With 41 percent of wheat heading by the end of last week, he said "that was 35 percent ahead of last year and the 5-year average.  Canola blooming was virtually complete by week's end, 30 percent ahead of last year's crop."

Oat emergence was near completion at 96 percent by the end of last week, Hundl said.

In addition, the NASS report indicated 27 percent of the wheat and 23 percent of canola were rated as excellent.

MONDAY'S STORM HAD VARYING EFFECTS

Tom Stephens, Oklahoma Wheat Commission board chairman from Guymon, said he's talked with several producers about Monday's storms.  Stephens is also the District 2 representative on the commission, which includes Woodward, Woods, Harper, Texas, Cimarron, Ellis and Beaver counties.

Stephens said the impact of the storm varied for different producers depending on what kind of weather they actually received.

"It would depend on if they got rain," he said. "Some got as much as 2 inches, some didn't get any, and some had hail damage."

While the rain is beneficial, Stephens said the hail damage could potentially affect some producers' final yield numbers.

WHEN RAIN MAY BE BAD

In addition, although producers are happy about the showers that have come recently, Hundl warned that it is possible, during latter stages of wheat's growth, to get too much precipitation.

"Once berries form, too much rain can swell the heads," Hundl said, noting that drowns the plant.

"We'd like it to quit (raining) as the wheat approaches maturity," he said.

"At the stage we're at now, moisture about once a week would be sufficient," he said. "It's about like watering your yard."

ROW CROPS LOOKING GOOD, TOO

Corn seedbed preparations were 88 percent complete last week, Hundl said.

"That's 12 points ahead of normal," he said.

Actual corn planting stood at 31 percent complete, 10 points above last year's crop, and Hundl said some corn had actually emerged last week.

Sorghum seedbed preparation was at 55 percent as of Sunday, 21 points greater than the five-year average.

Preparation of soybean seedbeds was 33 percent, and Hundl said that indicated normal progress.

Cotton seedbed preparation attained 73 percent completion, ahead of the 5-year average, he reported.

PASTURE CONDITIONS ALSO GETTING BETTER

Hundl said only 20 percent of pasture and range lands were currently rated as poor to very poor.

That was an improvement from just the prior week, when the figure was 28 percent as poor or very poor, he said.

ENTIRE REPORT AVAILABLE ONLINE

Hundl said the entire Oklahoma NASS report can be viewed at www.nass.usda.gov/ok, under "Recent Reports."

For more information on all NASS surveys or reports, contact Hundl's office, toll-free, at (800) 525-9226.

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