EL RENO, Okla. – As floodwaters continue to ravage parts of the state, Oklahoma farmers are feeling the impact and some of their crops may be in jeopardy.
Henry Heinrich, owner of Heinrich Farms in El Reno, said more than 75 percent of his 240-acre farmland was covered in at least six inches of water this week.
“Everything except our house and where our barns are at, everything else was covered,” Heinrich said. “Our wheat hay crop is basically gone. We were hoping to get it to dry weather and bale it before we got anymore rain, but that didn’t happen.”
Rodd Moesel, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said there are now challenges with agriculture across the state due to heavy rains and flooding. The longer water continues to stand on living crops, the more damage it will cause.
“I would say easily thousands are affected and hundreds [farms] are still underwater today,” Moesel told News 4. “For the wheat farmers, it’s particularly heartbreaking because you’ve been particularly nursing a crop all through fall and winter and you’re right here at harvest ready. We looked like we were going to have the best wheat harvest in years. The ratings last week were at 88 percent ‘good to excellent.’ I haven’t seen ratings like that in many, many years.”
According to Moesel, crops like wheat are ‘top heavy’ when they are close to harvest.
“So, if the wheat’s standing up straight, and you got heavy rain and knocks it over, part of it’s going to be knocked down so long that you can’t harvest it,” he said. “Part of the rest is going to be knocked down and have more fungus or disease problems.”
With so many crops flooded, Moesel said it will dramatically lower the yield of how many bushels can be harvested per acre. The quality of wheat that is eventually harvested could also be lowered.
According to Heinrich, wheat can make up for 50 to 80 percent of income for some farmers. This sort of financial hit could be devastating for some, he said.
“If we keep having rain, it’s just going to deteriorate the quality of the crop every day,” according to Heinrich. “There’s nothing we can do to speed up. We just got to wait for the good Lord to send us sunshine and wind and wait to dry.”
Moesel said other crops that could be significantly impacted due to recent flooding include corn and cotton.
“It [corn] needs moisture, but it doesn’t want to be standing in moisture. It’s not an aquatic plant and, so, it can actually suffocate and kill that plant if it stays underwater for an extended time period,” he said. “A problem a lot of the cotton guys are having is they should have already planted. The fields have been so wet they haven’t been able to get in the field to plant, so every day that goes by without planting is going to affect how good the cotton crop does later.”