Oklahoma’s impressive agricultural impact extends far beyond the state line.
Ranking fourth in the nation for number of farms, the Sooner State’s 78,000 farms cover 34.2 million acres of land, with the average farm sizing in at 438 acres.
Hardworking farmers and ranchers grow, raise and produce the state’s important commodities, such as hogs, cattle and calves, soybeans, winter wheat, rye, pecans, milk and more. Several of these commodities put Oklahoma on the map in national rankings, including No. 1 for rye, No. 2 for beef cows, No. 2 for canola and No. 5 for pecans.
In fact, the state’s top commodity – cattle and calves – brought in a whopping $3.22 billion, according to the latest data.
Though Oklahoma provides food, fuel and fiber for the U.S., the state is extremely valuable in an international sense as well. In 2013, the total value of agricultural exports for the state was an estimated $1.9 billion. Wheat, beef and veal, pork, hides and skins and chicken meat brought the most to Oklahoma’s economy. Prime export markets include Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries.
Oklahoma agribusiness also comprises an important part of the overall industry. Processing companies, such as Mountain View Meats in Stilwell, provide products for restaurants and grocery stores across the nation, while Oklahoma-based small businesses, like Southern Okie gourmet fruit spreads, create value-added products, bringing jobs and dollars to the state economy.
With a strong foundation in production farming, plus the desire for innovation and adaptation to modern technologies, education and advancements, Oklahoma’s already successful agriculture industry is poised for continued growth.
Growing the Green
For 9-year-old Kyzer Tull, his first gardening experience brought in the green – literally. The Cleveland grade schooler was named the winner of the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program contest for Oklahoma, growing a monster cabbage for the program with nearly 14,000 other Oklahoma third-graders. The cabbage won him $1,000 to put toward his education.
Tull was one of more than 3.5 million third-graders in 48 states who participated in the program, which aims to teach kids what it takes to care for a plant, along with confidence, responsibility and accomplishment. After the growing season, Tull submitted a photo of himself with his cabbage, plus its weight – more than 5 pounds – to his teacher, who submitted it into the statewide drawing.
In an earlier article, Tull said growing the cabbage was fun and that he would definitely do it again. Learn more about the program at bonniecabbageprogram.com.
Women in Agriculture
More women are finding their place in agriculture, and the Southwest Oklahoma Women’s Conference plans to continue providing support and strength for females in the industry.
Held in early 2016, the one-day conference addressed personal, family, business and agricultural issues presenting challenges to women.
Participants listened to success stories and networked with others, providing inspiration and new ideas for starting a business.
A Southwest Oklahoma Mini Mall was also featured, which showcased close to 30 women-owned businesses and their products.
Oklahoma growers harvest approximately 12 million pounds of pecans annually. Totaling more than 140,000 acres, pecan groves are located all along the Red River and on a line from Ardmore to Tulsa.
The pecan is celebrated with annual festivals in Meeker and Okmulgee. The 2016 Okmulgee event included a pie contest, live music and a carnival.
Okmulgee owns the world record for largest pecan pie, pecan cookie, pecan brownie and biggest ice cream and cookie party. The pie record was set in 1989 when bakers produced a pie measuring 40 feet in diameter and weighing 16.5 tons. The pie was cut into 20,000 slices.