The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, Aug. 9, indicates more sever drought conditions are moving eastward towards our area and there is little hope for significant rain in the forecasts. Only the Northeast Kansas corridor is in good shape and that is shrinking. The six to ten-day outlook (Aug. 16 to 20) indicates (believe it or not) a 33 to 40% chance of below normal temperatures and a 33 to 50% chance of above normal precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (Aug. 18 to 24) indicates continued chance of below normal temperatures and normal precipitation. It would appear the high-pressure ridge is starting to breakdown. Better late than never as this is likely too late to really aid our summer crops much outside of alfalfa.
This will be the last of the series about climate, our current weather and agriculture. First, what are we looking over the next year or so while keeping in mind the further out we go, the more subject to change the prediction is. Through January 2023 we are looking at the likelihood of above normal temperatures while from February through August, temperatures are predicted to be near normal. The precipitation outlook isn’t very promising with the period from now through January 2023 looking drier than normal. Keep in mind that as we head into fall and early winter normal precipitation decreases to only about an inch of liquid precipitation in December and January. From February through April amounts are looking normal which would be a boon compared to this year. Once we head into May and June, it’s a toss-up. July and August look near normal which again would be fantastic compared to this year.
Now, what does this means for agriculture. First on the cattle production side, we are already looking at an increased number going to slaughter due to a lack of summer pasture and forage. The fall forecast, unless there is irrigation, is quite poor for the regrowth of cool season perennial pasture. It also isn’t promising for the production of annual pasture over fall through early spring using wheat, rye, or triticale. And hay is shorter than normal with higher prices. Add that dryland corn is very stressed and some has been written off while some are trying to ensile it. Even most irrigated corn fields have been hurt by the heat and not just here so higher grain prices are likely around the corner for feeders. Milo and soybean crops here are also challenged. The outlook is for further culling and early slaughter which means a delay in building the herd, especially if the weather patterns are as forecast. Hog herds and poultry flocks can be ramped up fairly quickly, especially compared to cattle.
On the crops side, we have already mentioned corn. Dryland soybeans in much of Kansas are really suffering, especially as now is when they are trying to fill pods. Milo, especially the later planted fields, still have time but time is running short as it is already Aug. 14th. Establishing wheat this fall, especially after a summer crop will be challenging to say the least and it will be interesting to see how much wheat is planted in the area this fall.
On a slightly brighter note, forecasts can be wrong and the predicted return to more normal next spring would aid the 2023 summer crops.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.