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Catching up in agriculture
Dr. Victor Martin

The six to 10 day outlook (June 9-13) believe it or not indicates below normal temperatures and precipitation for our area. Looking out eight to 14 days (June 11-17) indicates below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures. The drought monitor has indicated some intensification of drought conditions, especially in Southwest part of the state. Barton is still mostly in moderate drought with the eastern third abnormally dry. This heat will rapidly intensify these conditions over the next week. A great deal has happened over the last month or two, so let’s take a moment to catch up on some of it.

• The 9th District U.S. Court of Appeals has blocked the sale of a dicamba based herbicide used with certain soybean varieties for weed control. This is the formulation for use with Bayer’s XtendiMax soybeans that has been the source of much controversy the last several years as it has vapor drifted and severely damaged conventional soybeans. It has already been the subject of many court actions, special requirements for its use by the EPA, and needs special training for application. This will most certainly be appealed.  

• Wheat in much of Kansas is turning rapidly with the onset of hot temperatures. This isn’t good, especially with the lack of soil moisture in Western Kansas. On the plus side, hotter, drier conditions will suppress foliar diseases. Another consideration for some is dealing with weed pressure, especially on thinner stands.

• K-State economists are predicting a tough year for producers. They used 2019 Kansas Farm Management Association members’ average net farm income and from this estimating net farm income in 2020 will decrease from an average of $110,380 (2019) to $14,358 for 2020, a decrease of 87%. Combining this estimate with the economic fallout from COVID-19, it is likely a tough year for rural Kansas. And this will translate into a rough year for revenues flowing into public coffers.

• On the livestock front, investigations are supposed to be underway examining prices, price fixing, and the beef packing industry. This has been promoted by state attorneys general, members of Congress, and commodity groups.  

• Four current and former chicken company executives have been indicted on charges of price fixing. Naturally, these companies share process fell this week on this news.

• COVID-19 is still a major problem at many meat packing plants as plants are trying to further strengthen worker health and safety protocols. This has been a focus in southwest Kansas and up in Holton.  

• The government has been purchasing commodities with the intention of distributing them to those in the country in need. This applies more to items such as dairy products but not exclusively.

• More help for producers is supposed to be on the way through the USDA to help farmers reeling from trade wars, low prices, and all the complications of COVID-19.

Naturally, there is a great deal more going on.  

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