Often the concern is whether the crop will be harvested in time to do such fall jobs as sow wheat and cover crops. This time especially in the southern two-thirds of the state where rain has been almost non-existent for the past nearly three months, it's not a matter of whether the crop will be harvested. Many fields are already done and several farmers may well bring it to close within a few days, if they haven't already.
Instead, the question is what to do since it's so dry? Should you go ahead and plant wheat and other fall crops or not? One farmer who planted nearly 1,000 acres of wheat in an area where he intends to double-crop soybeans after wheat harvest next June is now concerned about the fate of his crop. He received a quarter inch of rain on October 3. His fair is that it will be enough to get the wheat started, but not enough to cause it to fully emerge and grow. He's concerned that it could sprout, but then wither and die from lack of additional moisture to support it.
Why? All indications are there is absolutely no moisture in the topsoil or subsoil below about three inches. One farmer who dug pits for soil judging practice on normally naturally wet soils discovered that a half hour after the pits were dug, even though it is heavy clay, wet ground, it looked as the pits had been dug and open for a week.
Some who are planting wheat now are planting deeper than normal, hoping the wheat will not sprout laying in dry soil. Then they're gambling on receiving ample rain to get the crop established once it does rain.
Research results generally show week planted during the second and third week of October have the highest yield potential. However, that assumes normal germination and growth. It's also been demonstrated that wheat planted as late as Nov 1 may or may not make a good crop, depending upon the weather pattern that follows. Experts generally frown on very late plantings, such as in mid to late November or early December. Even so, there is anecdotal evidence that those plantings occasionally survive and yield reasonably well. What can't be anticipated now is what weather conditions will be once you put the seed in the ground. Yet that will have a lot to do with weather wheat germinates before a hard freeze, and how wheat plants survive winter.