Most of the state received modest showers and snowfall during the week ending March 15, that could provide at least minimal growth for small grain crops, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Oklahoma Field Office, March 16.
Growers indicate that this precipitation was a good start but more moisture is needed to ensure good wheat, oat and rye yields. Precipitation ranged from 0.03 in the Panhandle district to 1.57 inches in the Southeast district. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the nation is suffering the driest start of a year since first tracked in 1895. Similarly, all Oklahoma districts are below normal since March 1. Soil moisture improved slightly but both topsoil and subsoil remain mostly in the short to very short range. There were 5.6 days suitable for field work.
Limited rainfall since October is still a major concern for small grain producers. Wheat, rye and oats were showing improvement in progress from the recent rains, but small grain conditions were still mostly rated between fair and poor. If warm weather continues, small grain crops should begin to develop faster. Crop insect activity was mostly light. Winter wheat jointing was at 12 percent, four points behind last year, and 12 points behind the five-year average. Rye jointing was 18 points behind normal at 22 percent complete. Oats planted, at 71 percent, was 12 points behind normal, with a small percentage of oats reaching the jointing stage of development.
Despite the dry conditions, seedbed preparation was running well ahead of normal with the exception of soybeans. By week's end, producers had prepared 46 percent of field corn seedbeds, 22 points ahead of the five-year average. Sorghum seedbeds were 18 percent prepared, 7 points ahead of normal, while soybean seedbed preparations were at 14 percent, 2 points behind normal. Twenty-one percent of peanuts seedbed preparation was complete by week's end, 7 points ahead of the five-year average. Cotton seedbed preparations increased slightly from last week to reach 47 percent complete, 29 percent ahead of normal.
Pasture and range conditions improved with the recent rainfall but remained mostly in the fair to poor range. Supplemental haying is occurring in areas where pasture growth has suffered. Prices for feeder steers less than 800 pounds averaged $93 per cwt. Prices for heifers less than 800 pounds averaged $85 per cwt. Livestock conditions were still rated mostly in the good to fair range. Average livestock marketings were reported last week.
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