Ryan Flaming: Dry conditions for Kansas wheat

Ryan Flaming
The Kansan

Advantages of “dusting the crop in” now and waiting for rain include a good seed distribution usually attained in dry soils, as well as the opportunity to plant a large number of acres before it rains.

However, if no rain occurs in the near future, the crop might not emerge until it rains later in the fall or even winter, delaying the “effective planting date” to whenever the rain actually occurs. Thus, growers should treat these fields as if they were sowing late, where increases in seeding rate as well as in-furrow starter fertilizer are recommended. These might also be situations in which seed treatments can be beneficial, as the seeds will be out exposed to weather in the fields for several days.

The worst-case scenario would include planting into a limited amount of moisture, just enough for emergence of some plants but not enough to maintain these seedlings after they emerge. This situation can result in uneven stands and high within-field stand variability, or even crop failure. Thus, if good moisture cannot be reached in about the top 1.5-2 inches of soil, growers would likely be better off sowing it shallower and waiting for rain.

Otherwise, in central, south central, and southeast Kansas, growers can still wait for a firmer rain forecast to plant their wheat, as these regions are still within the optimum sowing window. This might actually be a good option for growers who can plant all of their remaining acres within a two or three-day timeframe, in case a stronger chance of rain appears in the forecast.

The disadvantage of waiting is that, if the fields do not get planted before a potential precipitation event, moist soils can delay sowing dates.

— Ryan Flaming is a Kansas State Research and Extension agent for Harvey County. Agriculture is his specialty. He can be reached at 316-284-6930.