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Markets watching as Plains wheat harvest becomes 'race with Mother Nature'

Agriculture.com Staff 06/04/2008 @ 12:37pm

A "whopper" of a storm system moved through northern Oklahoma Tuesday night, damaging fields, taking down the area's wheat harvest progress and stretching the harvest window as combines slowly begin to make their way north.

As the storms that brought heavy rains, hail and high winds to the northern tier of Oklahoma counties left the area Tuesday, they took with them up to 90% of the yield potential in some fields, according to Oklahoma Wheat Commission executive director Mark Hodges. It's the latest weather delay in this year's wheat harvest season thus far, one that's quickly becoming defined by Mother Nature.

"The Oklahoma wheat harvest now reaches from border to border and seems to be in a race with Mother Nature," Hodges said Wednesday.

The marketplace is watching weather delays like the latest one in Oklahoma late Tuesday, according to Agriculture Online Market Analyst Louise Gartner. Though market prices may begin to reflect more serious harvest delays if they persist in the Plains, it's the points of foreign delivery that may see the biggest squeeze.

But, Hodges saysthat you don't have to look clear to the Gulf to see supply issues cropping up as a result of choppy harvest progress.

"Besides weather, the only other major problem continues to be availability of rail cars to move wheat out of elevators in southern Oklahoma," he says. "This issue has caused long lines at several locations and will force ground storage of wheat or closing of elevators in some locations if the issue is not resolved quickly."

Despite these setbacks, Hodges adds the cutting that Mother Nature is permitting is still finding good HRW quality, even as some fields have yet to reach full maturity.

"Other areas of the state continued harvesting with test weights in central and northern Oklahoma still above 60 pounds per bushel, outstanding berry color and yields that producers have been pleased with," he says. "While we are cutting wheat from border to border, there are still some areas of green wheat in the state that will require a few more days of ripening before cutting begins."

A "whopper" of a storm system moved through northern Oklahoma Tuesday night, damaging fields, taking down the area's wheat harvest progress and stretching the harvest window as combines slowly begin to make their way north.

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