It’s Easter weekend and this past Thursday night saw some fairly severe weather in the area complete with power outages. Spring is really here, especially after the extremely warm temperatures this past week. Today is April 5, so area producers should have wrapped up side dressing the 2015 wheat crop and corn planters are being readied to begin planting shortly. Alfalfa is greening up and in some parts of the state, including some fields here, wheat producers are assessing winter survival. Since not a great deal is going on just yet, let’s catch up on what is known.
• While winter survival appears good here, K-State Extension had the opportunity to assess winter survival in Northwest Kansas. State and area specialists found that 1863, Byrd, Denali, Everest, KanMark, LCS-Pistol, SY Monument, T158, TAM 114, WB-Cedar, and Winterhawk appeared to exhibit less damage from the winter. While we don’t necessarily plant these varieties in our area, look for varieties adapted to this area with a similar pedigree. Also, producers planting either several varieties of wheat (which you should) and/or across varying conditions (planting date, previous crops) should take the time to evaluate how variety and conditions affected survival and tillering.
• Mary Knapp, State Climatologist located at K-State has provided information on soils temperatures at the four inch depth across the state. In our immediate area, soil temperatures are in the fifty to fifty-three degree range and are above the long-term average for the state. Soil temperatures are just short of ideal (over fifty-five degrees). Below fifty degrees, corn seed will absorb water but basically just sit there. Above fifty the process of germination proceeds slowly. Naturally as you approach sixty for soil temperatures the process speeds up. Producers in the area, if the warm weather persists can if they choose start planting corn, especially dryland.
• Insect update – Weevils, aphids, and army cutworms are being found in alfalfa in the central part of the state and especially in the southern part requiring spraying. In wheat aphids are appearing in South Central Kansas but so far at low levels. Often they won’t require treatment, however, the bird cherry oat aphid transmits barley yellow dwarf which can significantly impact wheat yields. Ideally in both alfalfa and wheat, beneficials, insects preying on these pests, can help with the problem. However, these beneficials, lady beetles and parasitic wasps are not yet present.