“Terrible.”

That was the word OSU Extension Agent Dana Bay used to describe current wheat conditions in the area, all caused by lack of rain.

“We’re very dry,” Bay said. “The wheat crop is terrible. If we don’t get rain soon, there won’t be much grain production.”

Bay said wheat is now at a critical stage known as hollow stem. Hollow stem occurs when the developing head is still below the soil surface. Rain is critical to further growth.

“The wheat is very drought stressed at this time,” Bay said. “We need a good soaking rain to come pretty quickly.”

Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Terry Peach described the situation as “fighting to survive” in an address on his website. He also described the outcome of lack of rain as an economic disaster.

In a phone interview Friday, he said, “In a good year, the state averages 140 million bushels of production. Without rain in the next 10 days, it could drop to the 70 million to 80 million range.”

According to the National Weather Service in Norman, there is no rain predicted into next Tuesday.

Even with irrigation techniques in place, the situation is serious because farmers can’t afford to pay for the fuel it takes to irrigate their land, Peach said.

Farmers are not only fighting the drought, he said, they are fighting increased costs.

“Today our farmers ... fighting to survive this tenacious drought also are struggling with a problem our forbears didn’t face: greatly increased input costs,” Peach said. “Fuel, fertilizer and seed grain prices have increased up to four times during the past year.”

According to Woodward Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer, Woodward County has received only an average of .3 inches of rain so far this year.

“Harper County has received .13 inches of rain and Ellis County .25,” Lehenbauer said.

All of which is “well below” the amount of precipitation that is typically seen around the area this time of year, he said.

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