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Wheat, Weather and Working Together
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Dr. Victor L. Martin

The reports are out and winter wheat acreage is up significantly. Good wheat prices helped this boost in planting as did weather factors. Speaking with some irrigators, wheat was planted in response to irrigated water use during the 2011 crop year. Back in December, the column grading the winter wheat crop put it in the B range, especially after what was feared with the drought. The December moisture was extremely beneficial and the overall condition of the wheat was good, even if a few more tillers and roots would have been nice. That article stated soil moisture conditions were adequate for the crop to get through the winter providing the area had a “normal” winter.
Well, it’s Kansas and we’ve had an extremely mild winter temperaturewise with some pretty good winds and precious little moisture since December. Most of the wheat roots are in the top two inches of soil and that soil, especially soil that was well-worked, is becoming or has become dry. Some wheat is starting to show classic stress signs and starting to regress. What would be great is some moisture amounting to more than a trace and seasonal temperatures. What isn’t needed is a nice blast of arctic air on bare wheat since when that is combined with dry soil and plant conditions, wheat is vulnerable to desiccation and stand loss. And now isn’t the time to ignore topdressing nitrogen, especially if conditions stay dry. While a producer might evaluate yield potential and adjust his total nitrogen application, it is even more important for proper fertility under moisture stress as it is more difficult for roots to explore the soil and take up nutrients. A profile N test would be a great help in making fertilizer N additions. If a producer is unfamiliar with how to properly test for profile N, contact your local extension office or crop consultant. Fortunately, wheat still has most of its nine lives left.
This weekend, members of the Barton Collegiate Farm Bureau Chapter are attending the Young Farmer and Rancher Conference in Wichita. This is a great opportunity for to get together with other college students, individuals and couples in agriculture. It is a chance to network, make connections, and listen to a broad range of speakers examining everything from getting out the message of production agriculture to what the future might hold. More than anything else, it serves as a step on the journey of producing the next generation of agriculture spokespeople and leaders. It is this continuity of the older generation working to bring along the next one that is the key to a strong agricultural sector in this country. This opportunity would not be possible for these students without the support of the Barton County Farm Bureau. Their support includes not only funding this opportunity for the students but also providing a myriad of support and help.
Finally, if you read last week’s article regarding the most worthless degrees in college, the Deans of Agriculture at Purdue University, the University of Illinois, the Ohio State University and Iowa State University issued a joint press release in response. You can find it on the website. It’s safe to assume they weren’t very happy.