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Take a breather before fall
Dr. Victor Martin

The Drought Monitor shows little change from last week and for mid-July overall moisture conditions aren’t bad with only our western Kansas ranging from abnormally dry to a small area of severe drought along the border with Colorado in Southwest Kansas. And Southeast Kansas is still experiencing an area of moderate drought. This combined with seasonal to slightly below seasonal temperatures has greatly benefitted corn, milo and soybean grain development. The six to ten day outlook (Aug. 19 to 23) has below normal precipitation and normal to below normal temperatures for the state. Looking out eight to 14 days (Aug. 21 to 27) indicates below normal precipitation and normal to slightly above normal temperatures.  

In two weeks, meteorological, not astronomical, summer ends and fall begins. It’s time to take a breather and see where we are at as we head into fall wheat planting and summer crop harvest. As always, hindsight is 20/20 and foresight has a foggy crystal ball. 

First, how do corn, soybeans, and milo harvests look as of today.

• In spite of fairly dry conditions and heat earlier, which will negatively impact yield whether dryland or irrigated, corn benefitted from the moisture over the last month and more seasonal or even slightly cooler than normal temperatures. While some later planted corn is a bit behind, a great deal of corn has dented, and husks are turning color. Indications are for a decent corn harvest and unlike the last several years, unless weather changes drastically, we should have a more normal harvest time. The crop looks good whether dryland or irrigated on most fields. Wheat planting following corn this fall should be timelier than the last several years. The negative here as with all summer row crops and wheat is the price.

• Milo, after a bit of a slow start, overall looks to have excellent yield potential. Almost all fields in the area are flowering and many are even starting to show a color change. Yield potential looks good to excellent. If weather conditions hold, this looks to be an excellent milo harvest for area producers.

• Soybeans, especially dryland soybeans look excellent. Most areas have excellent soil moisture and now is the critical time for soybeans as they are filling pods. As of now, it looks to be a good to excellent year for yield potential.

• The corn crop is pretty well made and in the process of drying down to physiological maturity. For milo and soybeans, we need seasonal temperatures and both could benefit from rain through early September. What these two crops don’t need is blistering heat or abnormally cool September temperatures. Soybeans especially will start to shut down when temperatures fall into the upper 30ies at night.

• Finally, as always, weed pressure is out there, especially after the recent rains. However, overall most fields look good in terms of weed control.

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