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A winter wheat update
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There is a lot going on this time of year in the world of agriculture. From preparing for and planting spring crops to attending the annual Farm and Ranch Expo this past week. Cattle producers have their own set challenges as we head into spring. Today’s column is a brief update of where the winter wheat crop is as of today.
• The wheat is lagging in development anywhere from one to two weeks in many fields. As long as the weather cooperates during grain development as it did last year that’s not a problem. The positive to this is that wheat was less vulnerable to freezing temperatures we have had recently and vigorous growing wheat ahead of schedule would be suffering more severely from the drought.
• We are back in drought conditions but nowhere near as severe as the last several years.  However, if you are out and about on a nice spring day you will notice some fields with a bluish cast indicating the need for soil moisture.  Maybe as you read this the showers predicted for the weekend are happening.
• Winterkill has appeared in the state with the worst areas in the drier portions of Western Kansas. I haven’t heard any reports of major winterkill in this immediate area. And in some areas winter kill was worse under no-till where wheat was planted in heavy residue cover.
• Fields, especially with thin wheat stands, that haven’t been sprayed with herbicide, are showing good crops of winter annual weeds such as tansy mustard, cheat grasses, and purple nettle among other weeds. It’s still not too late to control weeds with proper herbicide selection.
• While there are reports of some insect pressure, overall pressure hasn’t been bad and as temperatures warm, hopefully with some precipitation, wheat should be able to outgrow much of the potential insect pressure.
• Some fields in the area planted into coarser textured (sandier) soils with tillage suffered stand damage from wind erosion.  While not widespread, it is fairly easy to find damage, especially in Stafford County.
• If you take the time to drive around and examine wheat field conditions are all over the place from very poor to excellent. Most of the wheat in the area appears to be in the fair to good range but that can deteriorate rapidly if moisture continues to be short.
Overall while wheat isn’t in great condition, there is still the potential for a good crop in our area.  And if the last several years have taught us anything, it’s how tough and resilient wheat in Kansas is.