This spring, area farmers were cursing Mother Nature for the continuous stream of rain and precipitation that drowned out portions of the state’s fall crops, washing away seed and profit.
But now producers are signing a different tune.
As farmers continue to harvest corn, soybeans and milo they follow the combine with the wheat drill in hopes of getting this year’s wheat crop in the ground before the first freeze.
But a lack of rain has severely impacted the crop, which is in desperate need of moisture to mature.
According to recently figures from the United States Department of Agriculture, 43 percent of the crop was rated as fair with only 3 percent receiving an excellent rating. Ratings for moisture levels show central Kansas with only adequate levels in both the topsoil and subsoil.
Jim Shroyer, a crop production specialist with Kansas State University Research and Extension, said producers have a couple of options when it comes to planting wheat.
The most popular and probably the most secure option Shroyer said is to plant wheat in the dry soil and “hope for rain.”
The seed will remain viable until it gets the necessary moisture but will likely not emerge until November.
The one risk is hoping for a rain is that too heavy of a rain could “crust over” the soil, which makes it difficult for the crop to emerge, or it could wash out an area of seed.
Shroyer said producers can try drilling wheat deeper into the soil, to levels where moisture still remains. This is only an option if moisture is within reach and can also cause emergence issues for the crop.
If moisture isn’t accessible, producers can wait for a rain — which is predicted for later this week — but that could keep tractors idle for sometime and farmers could find themselves trying to plant in the middle of a string of rains.
But most of the state’s producers aren’t in the situation to wait to plant. According to USDA figures, about 90 percent of the wheat crop is already in the ground in central Kansas, which means farmers are forced to wait on the rain.