The light tan spots in this field indicate freeze damage to the wheat crop.
For wheat farmers in southwest Oklahoma the proverbial rain has hit. Not only was there severe drought damage to the winter crops, but the late freeze on April 20 sealed the deal on failed crops.
Wheat can withstand a late freeze at different stages for different amounts of time. If wheat is headed it can withstand 30 degrees for up to 2 hours. If wheat is in the boot stage it can withstand 28 degrees for up to 2 hours. If the flag leaf is out it can withstand up to 26 degrees for 2 hours – the process continues.
In Hobart, temperatures were documented as low 22 degrees and we were under 28 degrees for 6 hours. In layman’s terms: a disaster. Zac was with a crop adjuster all day yesterday and most of the day today. Let’s just say it was a tough 48 hours in our home realizing that 80% of our main crop was not harvestable. Today Zac is swathing his Ruby Lee seed wheat – because the head is dead inside the stalk.
The problem we will be experiencing for the 2015 crop year is the significant loss of seed to plant for future crops. But this is nature’s way of ensuring the strong will survive. Our faith will remain strong in Jesus Christ, this isn’t the end but the beginning. He always provides!
On another note, Washington, D.C. legislative action tour was great. Getting to hear from the Oklahoma delegation makes us feel like we could be a part of the only sane state in the U.S., trying to bring common sense back to Washington.
The summer weather outlook Zac Harris received doesn’t look favorable for agriculture
With the prospective light frost, we will see if the fresh milo that is coming up can survive. This will definitely be a crucial year for many farmers. The wise ones will be here to farm another year and the not so wise might not be. It’s a make or break year in Oklahoma! This will take years for farmers to recover from the continuous drought we have seen.
Zac is busy fabricating equipment to do all the things he has thought about all winter long, and most projects must be finished by April in time to use them. He also has been spraying the failed canola.
Kenda showed her first market steer at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. It was a steer we raised. She won her class and made the sale of champions as the 7th crossbred steer in the sale. In the crossbred division there were 140 steers. Super proud of all her hard work.
We are hoping for the April showers wives tale to be true. We sure would like it to bring about some May “flowers!” Wheat and barley need a drink and what canola that hasn’t gotten frozen out needs one too. We will begin planting milo after we return from the Legislative Action Tour in Washington DC.
Finally – real, actual rain in southwest Oklahoma!
Yes folks, that is RAIN in southwest Oklahoma. We are so blessed to be seeing true precipitation falling from the sky. Looks like in the 10-day we have some chances for some more. The wheat is starting to come out of dormancy and had plenty of subsoil moisture because of our no-till farming practices, but the crop needs top soil moisture for maximum yield potential.
Like any good meteorologist-stay tuned we’ll keep you posted.
Zac and the kids chopping ice as cows wait for a drink.
All living things must have water. Humans can live up to 10 days without food, but only 3 days without water! Early in February, we struggled with extreme cold temperatures and as good stewards of God’s creation (farmers and ranchers), we must under any condition care for the animals.
When water troughs and ponds freeze up we must do whatever is necessary to get our animals water. Most of the time this just includes “chopping ice” with an axe until we reach water. This is a daily occurrence.
Because of the extreme drought western Oklahoma has faced, we are using solar pumps to pump water from 50-year-old wells into troughs. The big concern with that is when it gets so cold outside the water in the wells freeze up. Then our only option is to “haul water” in trailers to cattle. So far we have been blessed to either move cattle to different pastures that had deeper wells or the ponds on a few places still had some water. Hope you enjoy the pictures of our family “chopping ice”. The kids really enjoy this time with dad!
Brushing the snow off a pond to find the best place to chop ice.
Cattle gather around a chopped hole in a pond to get a drink.
A chunk of the ice chopped away from the pond. You can see the thickness of the ice.
Well its very cold and dry STILL in Southwest Oklahoma. We are working on several projects and planning for this year’s crops. Zac has began micromanaging each of the fields to try to maximize production. We began this last year, instead of putting all the fertilizer on the wheat at one time, but rather applying it in a timely fashion before a rain, etc. This way we can split the fertilizer over a 2-month span and hopefully gain maximum benefit by the crop having ample nutrition at all stages. Not only does this add time covering 6000 acres twice, but also our overhead costs of engine hours on equipment, diesel and the opportunity for break downs. We feel like last year it improved our yields despite the four late freezes that caused significant damage; providing more of a safe product for the world.
Chopping ice is a necessity to ensure livestock have water during cold spells.
With weather all over the place it makes it really hard on all life, including livestock. One of my chickens died; the kids have had them since last spring and they had just began laying eggs consistently. Really warm days followed by harsh cold fronts and polar vortices give opportunity for cattle to be sick quickly.
Zac has bought 2 wheat trucks that needed complete overhauling- in fact one of them was a wrecked truck. Apparently, the driver had gotten too far in the ditch to allow a vehicle to travel along the same road and the wheat in the box shifted and caused the truck to flip on its side. So he has spent a lot of time straightening and tweaking the bent iron to make this a useable truck for the years to come. Over a year ago, he also bought a very similar truck that needed a motor overhaul. So this is the year of the trucks at the Harris Farms.
Kenda’s horse and 4-H steer get to know each other across the fence.
Kenda has been busy washing and working hair on her Oklahoma Youth Expo steer project. She has shown mini Herefords before but this is her first official 4-H project. Her brother and sister have been very helpful! Trale’ feels like she needs a “widdle steer” herself!
Just staying busy. If you come SW give us a shout we’d love to buy your dinner!
Zac and Amy
Straightening the frame of a truck, preparing it for farm use. Fellow blogger Marty Williams said it looked more like medieval torture.