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Are We There Yet?
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Before today’s topic two brief mentions are in order. First, the hot dry weather of the last week hasn’t dramatically changed the drought ratings from the week before. If this pattern persists for the next week or so, much of the county will slip back into the abnormally dry or moderate drought range. However, the abundant rains received earlier have made a large difference. Second, K-State entomology is studying sorghum head worm (a moth) in the area north of Great Bend. As of this week the traps indicated that numbers of head moth had risen to levels that justified treatment. So if you have grain sorghum, be sure and look over you fields. Since yield potential looks pretty good for most fields, it may pay to spray.
It has certainly been a summer cropping season full of extremes in temperature and precipitation - late snows and freezes, dry, wet and cool, finally hot and dry. While it is certainly hot, it is not even close to the last several summer’s extremely dry, hot conditions and certainly more humid. Earlier with late planting and cool temperatures, there was concern of lagging crop development, especially with corn and grain sorghum. So where are we as crops head into the homestretch.
* The heat has benefitted most of the sorghum crop. Sorghum was heading late, increasing the chances of an early frost decreasing yield and quality. Sorghum can handle the recent heat, especially after the plentiful recent rains. Maturity has advance to the point many fields have grain turning color. The best grain sorghum crop in recent memory appears likely.
* Corn was also late in developing for two reasons – late planting and cool temperatures. But compared to the last two years, nobody was complaining. Corn development is heat driven and it takes so much heat for it to reach maturity. The area was looking at a much later than usual harvest. Not a major concern unless the field was going back to wheat or harvest bled over into wheat planting. Overall the heat may have cost some yield by speeding up maturity but most grain was pretty well made before this hot, dry spell.
* Soybean yield stands to suffer the most from these conditions. Soybean seed is developing and filling right now. On the plus side is many of the pods abort normally, even in a good year. Also soybean can stand up to a fair amount of heat. What hurts is that good soil moisture is necessary for proper seed development. So irrigated soybean yields look good and while dryland yields have likely been affected, a much better crop than the last two years is almost a certainty.
* It appears the majority of alfalfa has been recently cut. Yields appear solid. Well-established alfalfa has an extensive tap root and can take advantage of deeper soil moisture than other crops. With some luck, one more decent cutting is likely.
Interesting, if you averaged out the moisture and temperature this summer, the area is probably close to the average.