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Spring crop update
Dr. Victor Martin

The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, May 7 shows a slight easing, very slight, for the state but our area continues in moderate drought. Southeast Kansas continues faring the best currently. The six to ten-day outlook (May 14 to 18) indicates a 33 to 40% chance of leaning to above normal temperatures and the same for precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (May 16 to 22) indicates a 40 to 50% chance of leaning to above normal temperatures and a 33 to 40% leaning above normal for precipitation.  

Today, let’s take a moment to catch up with what has been going on and the temperature and precipitation outlook for summer.

• Winter wheat was looking decent heading into spring but after an extremely dry period in our area, it has taken several steps backwards. The crop is mostly headed out. Some freeze damage to heads exits. Some diseases are evident. Certain fields are barely six inches high while others closer to normal. Tillering is also all over the map with later planted fields especially thin while some fields actually look like they should. Rains now won’t undo the damage but would certainly help develop what grain is there. The fields that received decent rainfall this week were helped. Better than last year but not great.

• Corn seed is going in the ground, especially irrigated, but also dryland. There is some soil moisture but those heavily worked fields don’t have much. Especially south of the river, there is corn that has emerged and some fields show good, even emergence. However, dryland corn needs timely rains to establish. Corn’s developmental staging is determined by heat and with expected above normal temperatures, rain is needed soon.

• While it’s about time to plant soybeans and grain sorghum, the window for these crops is much wider. Those fields receiving significant precipitation this week should be in decent shape for stand establishment, however, those missing out are probably in a wait and see mode. Alfalfa cutting has just started and producers have been dealing with a lack of rainfall and insect pressure.

• For the period May through June, the temperature outlook is for a 33 to 40% of leaning above normal with equal chances of above or below normal precipitation. For June through August, indicates a 40 to 50% chance of leaning above normal for temperatures and a 33 to 50% chance of leaning to below normal precipitation. August through October is more of the same.

• One last item is worth mentioning. The El Nino is fading and a La Nina is expected to build.  There isn’t any idea if it will be as significant as the last one. Forecasters are already predicting a more active hurricane season.

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