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Potential crops workers and wheat
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Today, let’s focus on two potential crops for 2013, students graduating from Barton to join the workforce and wheat. This past Wednesday was Barton’s College to Community Day. Starting at 8 a.m., students visited various businesses calling Great Bend home. These are students pursuing degrees areas as diverse as criminal justice, early childhood, automotive, and computer networking to agriculture. Agriculture students visited Great Bend Feeding, Northview Nursery, and Straub International. These businesses each spent about sixty minutes describing their business, what it takes to succeed, what types of jobs they need, what they are looking for in an employee, and what salary/benefits are provided. The students and Barton greatly appreciated the time these businesses took for them. It was a true community effort involving not only business and Barton but the City of Great Bend. As an unexpected bonus, Senator Moran stopped at the Walnut Bowl, where students were enjoying lunch and free bowling, and stressed the need for them to complete their education and strongly consider staying in the area to help Kansas grow. Too often we tend to ignore the possibilities of where we are and fail to realize the future right in front of us.
    So now that most of the area’s wheat has been planted, where are we at? Overall, the wheat within approximately sixty miles of Barton looks like a B to B+. Producers planting early to take advantage of the rain guessed correctly this year and have well-established fields with good root systems. Most of the wheat planted 10 or more days ago around the fly free date, emerged and was looking good until last Thursday’s wind storm. Some of that wheat took a beating, especially planted on sandy soil that was worked but overall most of it is okay. Wheat that was cut off at the surface can recover since the growing point is still below the soil surface but it will depend on conditions as to how easily that can occur.
The later planted wheat and the wheat still waiting to be planted has a tougher row to hoe. As of now the forecast is for normal to below normal temperatures and rainfall. This will slow germination, emergence, tillering, and root system development. An added obstacle is the much hotter than normal conditions combined with strong winds form earlier in the month. This has dried the surface of the soil in many areas. Wheat that was well established has roots deeper in the soil and with luck is in good shape. However, wheat that was planted later and still quite small or perhaps not even emerged, has to establish under dry soil conditions and combined with cool temperatures will have more trouble becoming established and probably lose yield potential. And some of it has been buried under blowing soil. And for the well-established wheat, the cool temperatures are a positive as slowing down the development of that wheat will help conserve soil moisture. Overall, compared to last year, the crop is off to a good start.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.