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Where are we at the end of May?
Dr. Victor Martin

The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, May 23 indicates exceptional drought in our area with really no change from last week, even with the rains. Overall, in the western half of the state and extreme Southeast Kansas, conditions have improved a bit more. The six to ten-day outlook (May 30 to June 3) indicates a 40 to 50% of above normal temperature and a 40 to 50% chance of leaning to above normal precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (June 1 to 7) indicates a near normal temperature outlook and a 33 to 40% chance of leaning to above normal precipitation. Not fantastic but certainly much more like normal with a more typical active precipitation pattern.  

Today, as we approach June and the start of summer, where are we in terms of the 2023 cropping season in our area?

• Crop adjustors have been in the area for several weeks looking at the 2023 wheat crop. Many fields have been “zeroed out” with yields so low they aren’t worth cutting. You many have seen wheat fields brown after having been sprayed out with the expectation of planting a fall harvested crop such as milo or a feed crop for hay or silage. Some producers have estimated yields high enough to pull a combine in the field, perhaps twenty or so bushels per acre. Some are hoping the recent rains will allow enough vegetative growth to swath for hay, some already have, and then plant a crop into it.

• You may have noticed more oat fields than usual with some under irrigation. It’s not likely for grain but for hay or pasture with the shortage of hay of all kinds and with minimal pasture growth. Oats make a decent hay with more leaf material than say rye so it’s a good option as long as temperatures don’t go too high and leaf disease hold off.

• You may have noticed how quickly area pastures that received decent rain greened up. Not fantastic but at least growing. Producers had to place cattle somewhere as feed was growing short and this rain will help. However, many more timely rains through June are needed to prevent overgrazing damage.

• With the recent rains, most fields have enough moisture to establish the corn crop being planted, however, with little to almost no subsoil moisture, timely rains are essential. The same goes for soybeans, sunflower, grain sorghum, and feed crops but at least they have a wider planting window and more wiggle room.

• While recharging soil moisture and eliminating the drought would be great, the area can still produce acceptable crop yields with timely rains.  The key is timely rains.

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