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June 13, 2014

Norman precipitation ill-timed for farmers

NORMAN — Recent rains are a welcome sight to everyone — except farmers.

Wheat farmers hoping to salvage weather-stressed crops may have lost their opportunity to harvest under the shower of too much, too late.

“We needed this rain, but it was not timely at all,” said Heath Herje, agriculture educator with the Cleveland County Cooperative Extension Service. “This is the worst time we could get the rain. We will always take the rain, but if you’re trying to harvest wheat, we don’t want rain now, and we don’t want hail.”

The Mesonet at Norman’s north base registered 1.47 inches of rain Thursday morning. Further south, the National Weather Service measured 0.9 inches for Thursday rainfall.

“Washington only got 0.49 (inches), so it’s a pretty steep decline the further you go south,” National Weather Service forecaster Daryl Williams said.

Today will be warm and muggy with highs in the low 80s. There’s no rain in the forecast for Norman until Sunday night, and the warming trend will continue through the weekend, Williams said.

“For the calendar year, what we use locally here is Will Rogers,” Williams said. “They are five inches below normal for the year.”

Normal is about 13.5 inches for this time of year. Last year, 14.5 inches of rainfall were registered in May at Will Rogers, which Williams said was a record. This year, Will Rogers recorded 4.44 inches in May.

“Last May was really wet and then we went into a dry period,” Williams said.

That dry period hurt Oklahoma’s wheat crop.

“We needed rain during winter and early spring, and we didn’t get it,” Herje said.

In September, which is the planting time for wheat, conditions were favorable for a “cool season grain germination,” he said. The cold winter and lack of rain had a negative impact on the wheat. Too much rain at harvest time also is bad.

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