Let’s take today and catch up a bit on what has happened in the Golden Belt as the month of May is almost here. Now through the end of June is an extremely busy time for crop producers and for that matter, livestock producers.
• Rain, significant rain for most and a bit too much at one time for some, especially in Western Kansas, has dramatically changed soil moisture conditions. Almost a third of the stated is totally out of soil moisture concerns, most of the rest is rated as abnormally dry (up from moderate drought) and only parts of South Central and Southeast Kansas are still in moderate drought. Unfortunately part of the moderate drought area includes extreme eastern Barton County along with all or part of Rice, Reno, and McPherson. Almost all of Barton is considered abnormally dry along with Stafford County. Pawnee County is out of the watch. And this latest report doesn’t include rains after Tuesday. Naturally the next logical question is what about wheat?
• The short answer is yes, we should have enough soil moisture for a decent wheat crop unless temperatures and wind go absolutely crazy. But as with every wheat crop there are concerns. Rust diseases are in the state and close by and conditions favorable for wheat are also favorable for many leaf diseases. To compound matters wheat is very close to heading out in the area and is already headed out in South Central Kansas. Producers are quickly running out of time to apply fungicides if they need to do so. Barely Yellow Dwarf as always is around but appears to be at low levels and a late infection, so it should have minimal impact. It is likely there is some freeze damage to wheat heads and stems from recent cold snaps but the extent is unknown. White heads from freeze damage are present in Sedgwick and likely other southern counties.
• Some corn was in the ground before recent rains and the rain, especially for dryland corn, has moisture for a great start. Corn producers on sandier soils can get back into the field quickly after this rain. Those with heavier soils, above the Arkansas River, receiving several inches have a longer wait. May is a week away so it’s not time to make major adjustments yet in hybrid maturity although once we get into the second week of May, especially the southern part of our area, yield reductions can occur and adjustments in population and hybrid maturity may be in order, especially if a producer wants to go back to wheat.
• The jet stream pattern has changed and we are now in what meteorologists term a “active” weather pattern, i.e. increased rain and severe weather chances.
• One last item to call your attention to. After a couple of rough years, winter canola producers in Stafford, Reno and other counties south of here have the prospect for a decent crop which is now in full bloom as long as conditions say moderate.