By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Breaking the rules in agriculture
Dr. Victor Martin

The drought monitor report as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 shows no change for our area this week. The interesting part of the map is that extreme and exceptional drought areas are now concentrated in eastern South Central and western Southeast Kansas to the north and east of Wichita. As of today, much of Western Kansas is in adequate to good shape for planting wheat. The six to ten-day outlook (Sept. 26 to 30) indicates a 60 to 70% chance of leaning above normal for temperatures and normal precipitation (not much). The eight to 14-day outlook (Sept. 28 to Oct. 4) indicates a continued 60 to 70% chance of above normal temperatures and to a 33 to 40% chance of above normal for precipitation. Slightly cooler temperatures to conserve soil moisture and plant wheat would be nice.

Today’s topic concerns when a producer might consider breaking rules. Not rules that would endanger people, property, livestock or the environment. We don’t want to break local, state, or federal rules and regulations. Here we discussing suggested rules in crop production. This topic is in reference to last week’s column by Stacy Campbell, the extension district’s ANR crop agent regarding wheat planting. Everything in the column was the correct protocol straight from K-State’s Crop Production Specialist such as eliminating volunteer wheat and planting after the fly free date. Good advice straight from Manhattan, Kan. If you haven’t read the article, take the time to find it. However, there is one thing about planting the article didn’t consider. A reason or two to plant early. Breaking that rule.

K-State hinted that there may be a reason or two to plant earlier than the optimum. Why that fly free date or the BPMP (Best Plant Management Planting Date). Originally, it was to ensure that when wheat was planted, it would establish its tiller system past the date when the chances of Hessian fly laying their eggs would be minimized. The date here, north of the river is the end of this month. South of the river more like the first week of October. It’s based on the average date of the first frost. Here around mid-October. It also helps prevent the wheat curl mite from transmitting Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus to the crop and can even help prevent Barley Yellow Dwarf transmission early. All true, however, we are dry and have been overall for two plus years. So why plant early?

South of the river on the sandier soils, wheat producers plant when there’s moisture since it can disappear quickly and they need plant establishment and the ground covered. They also want to develop as deep a root system as possible. With an uncertain long-range precipitation outlook, it may be better to establish the crop as we now delaying planting until we have moisture, especially after Nov. 1 usually results in much less tillering and decreased yields. The other reason K-State considers valid is for grazing. Another reason this year is for some, seed is in short supply and early planting can help compensate for lower plant populations with more tillering. And if Hessian fly is your main concern, keep in mind we have over the last decade had pretty late first frosts.

Can you minimize the dangers of early planting? Yes. Selecting disease resistant varieties for example.  And unless gazing, treating seed with a fungicide and insecticide. 

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.