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Next Generation Farming

Rains Delay Wheat Emergence

Wet weather now could cost you at harvest.

The ample moisture we’ve had this fall has been fantastic for our newly planted wheat crop that's now emerging. For those producers who haven’t been able to get into the field and plant their wheat, though, the moisture hasn’t exactly been good news.


On Monday, USDA said Kansas had 80% of its winter wheat crop planted. Over the past five years, we’ve averaged about 89% for this point in the season.


The lack in planting progress over the past couple of weeks is due directly to the weather and wet fields. Farmers could try planting into a wet field, but they would risk field compaction. They’d also get to have a fun and exciting time trying to pull their tractor out of the mud.


Consequently, because of the delayed planting schedule, only 65% of the crop has germinated and emerged. That compares to the five-year average of 72%.

Planting a few days late normally doesn’t have a magnificent effect on yield when the crop is harvested. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to have your crop planted now, the ample soil moisture will come in handy as we head into winter.


Since water stores heat, the root system of the plant will be well insulated with soil moisture. If we’re lucky and we get some good winter snows also, the crop will have a protective layer of snow-covering that will insulate the crop from the cold winter winds while also holding the topsoil in place.


But if you don’t have your crop planted by now - and if the delays continue - the experts say it’s going to cost you at harvest. According to Kansas State University’s experiment station in Colby, Kansas, planting on October 28 results in nearly a 44% reduction in yield when compared to planting on October 9 (assuming identical seeding rates).


And if you wait to November 7, yield is slashed by 61%.  


Waiting beyond that is even worse and could result in even bigger, more devastating losses at harvest.


With that threat hanging over our heads, we need all the dry weather we can get. Here’s the great news – weather forecast calls for dry weather and clear skies for the rest of the week.


If our luck holds, planting in our area will be wrapping up sooner rather than later.

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