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Rain Affects Wheat Crops

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Walters, Ok_Heavy rains may have slowed the wheat harvest down throughout Southwest Oklahoma.  Local farmers say it's just another setback to an already damaged crop.

They say the combination of months of drought and several brutal freezes had a devastating impact on the wheat. Farmers in Cotton and Jackson County are reporting losses from 40% to 80%.  

An Altus farmer said he estimates that out of the more than 200,000 acres of wheat in Jackson County, about 75% of that is damaged and cannot be harvested.

He said that translates into about $42,000,000 in losses. But other farmers in Cotton County said they are faring well under the circumstances and welcome more rain this year if it means better crops next year.

Cotton County wheat farmer Tony High admits the elements have been especially hard on his crop this year. "It's the worst one in my history but I don't know. Two years ago was a bad drought. We didn't make the crop that we made this year. But this year, we made a little bit of the crop and then we caught the freezes. That's pretty much what got this year," High said.

He normally averages about 35 bushels of wheat per acre but this year it's 15. He says farmers do have crop insurance for situations like these.  

"Over so many years, your proven yield keeps dropping which means your guarantee drops. So, you can't have a crop like this every year. You have to build your yields in order for your insurance to be able to help you out," High explained.

Kasey Hoerbert, who works at the Co-op in Walters, said local farmers have been coming in with less wheat this year and that can affect an entire community.

"If farmers don't get the yields they get that's money they're going to spend elsewhere. They don't have a good yield; they might not go buy a new combine next year, new tractors or equipment. Something that could support other dealers in the area," said Hoerbert.

Not to mention the wheat farmers themselves, most of whom come from a long line off farmers before them.  "It's life changing. I mean, there's generations upon generations that farm. It can take just a few bad years of drought that can put somebody under, " Hoerbert said.

Both Hoerbert and High say it's going to take consistent rain to yield better crops next year.  


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