Farmers roll the dice every year when they plant. Remember back to all those rains in May. Those rains came right when it was time to get summer crops like cotton, sorghum, sesame, peanuts, watermelons, and okra planted. No worries about late planting a crop like okra, since it’s harvested continuously as young pods. For all of the other crops, late planting is a gamble with fall weather and crop maturity.
Fall really brings out the differences in crop heat units. It’s a time that highlights the differences in each days heat units and their accumulation.
Growers are carefully monitoring cotton and peanuts in Oklahoma to prepare for harvest this fall and early winter. One of the weather-based tools available to farmers are degree-day heat unit calculators. This tool uses daily air temperature minimums and maximums to calculate the heat units crops receive to drive growth. Accumulated degree-day heat units over the growing season provide an estimate of crop maturity.
The Oklahoma Mesonet has Degree-Day Heat Unit Calculators for alfalfa, corn, cotton, grass hay, peanut, sorghum, soybean, and wheat. Users can go back to 2004 to compare heat units from previous years to each other or the current season. Growers can enter their closest Mesonet site and crop planting date to calculate a custom degree-day heat units for their crop.