More land in Oklahoma is planted in wheat than in any other crop. Covering one-third of the state’s total cropland, wheat grows best on the prairies of the Great Plains and in the western part of the Central Lowland. It also grows in Southwestern Oklahoma, but cotton is more important in that area. The wheat grown is winter wheat, which is planted in the fall. It is used as pasturage for beef cattle during the winter and early spring and harvested in early summer. Both planting and harvesting are done by machine, the latter frequently by migrating “custom combiners” who follow the harvest from Texas to the Dakotas. The principal feature of the landscape in western Oklahoma is the grain elevator.
These tall buildings, most located on railroad sidings, are used for the storage and transfer of wheat from farm to market. They are found not only in the cities, towns, and hamlets, but also in the open country.
Crossing the northern part of Oklahoma is the 200-day growing season line, which is the northern limit for cotton production. The principal cotton-growing areas are in southwestern Oklahoma, along the Red River. Much cotton in the southwestern counties is grown on irrigated land. Ditches carry water for 40 to 50 km (25 to 30 mi) south of Altus Reservoir. In Harmon and Greer counties, water is pumped from deep wells. Most of the work from planting to harvesting is done with machines.
There are several areas of specialty crops in the state. Greenhouse and nursery products, grown in east central Oklahoma, are the state’s largest specialty crops. The Ozark Plateaus are noted for strawberries. The lower Arkansas Valley is important in the production of vegetables such as spinach, beans, and sweet corn.
The western half of the state is a major producer of mung beans, used for bean sprouts and cattle feed. The Rush Springs area in south central Oklahoma grows watermelons and cantaloupes. Native pecans grow well in central and east central Oklahoma. Stratford is known for its peaches.
In all parts of Oklahoma, however, there has been a major increase in cattle raising in recent decades. The acreage in hay, both cultivated and native, has increased. The high volume of grain sorghum production in the state also reflects the emphasis on cattle raising. There are many herds of registered beef animals, including Hereford and Aberdeen Angus. Farmers and ranchers ship excellent breeding stock to all parts of the nation. The Ouachita Mountains, Osage Hills, Arbuckle Mountains, Antelope Hills, and western Cimarron County are all areas that derive most of their income from the sale of beef animals. Dairy herds are raised near the larger towns and cities. The state depends on livestock products for 81 percent of its agricultural sales.
The eastern part of the state, with its rugged topography but more reliable rainfall, has gradually become an area of fairly intensive land utilization. Farms are relatively small, often less than 120 hectares (300 acres). Even where grazing is dominant, the holdings are about the same size. To the west, farm sizes increase steadily. In the western third of the state, not including the Panhandle, farm sizes are typically 200 hectares (500 acres). In the Panhandle they are often twice that size. In the western part of Oklahoma, ranches of 10 sections or more (a section is 1 square mi or about 2.6 square kilometers) are not uncommon, and in the Panhandle there are many ranches that have more than 25 sections each. Wheat farms also increase in size toward the northwest, covering 3 or 4 sections. "Oklahoma" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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