Even though temperatures have cooled and rainfall has eased drought conditions in some parts of the Corn Belt, worries about drought conditions remain elsewhere.
Apparently, Mother Nature decided winter-wheat farmers should feel the pain as well. Rain has been scarce this fall in some parts of the Great Plains, including Kansas, our country’s largest wheat-growing state. Parts of Iowa and western Arkansas are also in serious trouble.
According to the most recent Drought Monitor Index, "extreme" or "exceptional" drought conditions stretch from northern Oklahoma through western Kansas and Nebraska and into southern South Dakota, and also through much of Iowa. The lack of moisture in September is forcing some farmers to decide if they should “dust in” their wheat seed and pray for rain, or do nothing at all.
An editor for one of our sister publications, Rural Lifestyle Dealer, says the good news is that wheat seedlings on her farm near Hutchinson, Kan., had enough moisture to sprout, but there wasn’t much subsoil moisture to be found.
“The bad news is that even though harvest won’t happen until next June, the seeds are determining yield now based on soil conditions,” she writes in her blog. “We need rain, soon. Rain will help the wheat plants establish a good stand to protect against harsh winter conditions. Snow is good, but strong winds can damage the plants.”
If you’re no-tilling winter wheat in these challenging conditions or still dealing with the aftermath of this summer’s drought, read the collection of articles at left.
Even if your crop year is finished, the drought and poor yields might make it tough to stay in compliance with federal conservation programs. Read on for important advice on this topic.