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Wheat harvest and 2020 row crops
Dr. Victor Martin

The six to 10 day outlook (July 14 to 18) above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. Looking out eight to 14 days (July 16 to 22) indicates more of the same with well above normal temperatures and little rain. The drought monitor indicates expanding dry and droughty soils conditions which is hardly a surprise. On the positive side, some of the rainfall from the last week, didn’t ease conditions a bit in Southwest Kansas. There is doughnut hole of adequate soil moisture just east of Barton County that extends up through Northeast Kansas. Barton is abnormally dry with a sliver of the east considered adequate. Today, a brief review of the 2020 wheat crop and how summer row crops look.

First, the wheat harvest is rapidly progressing across the state and looks to be essentially over in our area. You have likely seen the reports. Overall, it appears to be a decent year with the normal variations. Pretty good with the conditions the crop faced. Test weights are adequate with some over the 60 pound bench mark and some around 58. Overall, protein levels could be better but it shouldn’t create any undue problems.  

Our summer rows in our immediate area, corn, milo, and soybeans are in decent shape overall. Soybeans, even dryland look good. We are coming into a time where adequate soil moisture is becoming critical as plants will set pods and fill seed. The projected conditions over the next two weeks aren’t promising for any of our summer crops. However as soybeans grown here are indeterminate, the bloom over an extended period of time, so there is wiggle room. Normally, around half the flowers don’t produce pods and seeds so if stress causes poor pollination for a period of time, soybeans can compensate.

Milo looks good and most hybrids won’t flower for a period of time, depending on the maturity rating. Rainfall will certainly help and milo is well able to handle hotter temperatures much better than corn and soybeans. Plus, milo plants have the ability to essentially put themselves in neutral and hold off flowering for a period of time until conditions improve.

Finally, corn is tasseling and silking. Naturally, irrigated corn will be less affected by the heat and moisture stress than dryland but even under irrigation, yield decreases from extreme heat occur during this critical time from just prior to flowering through early seed development. Dryland corn yields are most susceptible from heat and moisture stress. One day of severe stress can lower yields by around three percent. If this continues the effect is cumulative and cause significant yield loss. The cooler, humid weather this past week helped. One potential problem is warm nighttime temperatures which can interfere with pollination. Fortunately, we have been more humid and that helps.

Overall, with as challenging a spring/summer as producers have had, weed control overall is pretty good. Which is good news based on commodity prices.

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