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Bushels and Butterflies
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Well, at least the temperatures this past week have been a nice change. The whole issue of fall planted crops hasn’t changed for most of the area so we can touch on other issues but there is one item regarding wheat this fall and moisture.
· There is information on the web via blogs and Facebook regarding the cooler weather and soil moisture moving toward the soil surface and aiding in wheat germination. The theory involves cooler weather and subsoil moisture. In a nutshell, with the cooler weather, subsoil moisture and moisture deeper in the surface soil will migrate towards the surface and provide moisture in the seed zone for wheat to germinate. The theory is sound. Everything moves from higher to lower or from more to less along a concentration, or potential, gradient. And this phenomenon has been documented in the field as well as the lab. However, one potential roadblock (two actually) exist. Take a second and think about it. Is there any significant moisture below the seed zone? Some may have moisture but many (most) don’t. You can’t use what you don’t have. And if you have some moisture that can migrate up, do you have enough to keep the wheat seedling going or just enough to germinate the seed and then have it die from lack of moisture? This is almost worse than not germinating at all. You could hope to get it up and have substantial regular precipitation but none of the long range forecasts indicate this possibility.
· In agriculture we tend to view things like insects as the enemy since they damage and/or destroy crops and even livestock. It doesn’t hurt from time to time to remember that insects are also extremely beneficial to agriculture. Many important feed and food crops are pollinated by insects including soybeans, vegetable crops, fruit crops, sunflower, cotton, alfalfa, almonds, sesame, and many others. Beneficial insects help control pest insects. Some actually help breakdown dead plant and animal material. Many are simply attractive and fascinating. For those wanting to see the positive and interesting side of insects, mark the morning of Saturday, September 24 on your calendar. From 9 a.m. until noon at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, everyone from young children to well-seasoned retirees will have the opportunity the not only learn about Monarch butterfly migration but a chance to catch and tag them. With any luck, a tagged butterfly will be found in the overwintering grounds near El Rosario Mexico. There are crafts for the kids, refreshments, and the chance to view and purchase an opportunity on a butterfly quilt made by Central Kansas Thread Benders Quilt Guild. All proceeds are going towards a project to help save Monarch habitat and save their migration. Pam Martin, KDWP educator, is in charge of the program and has conducted Monarch programs in the area for fifteen years. For information call 1-877-243-9268.
· Finally, if you have the chance, especially with this cool weather make sure you take the opportunity to enjoy the state fair.