Great Bend Tribune
Published May 8, 2022
The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, May 3 indicates an expansion of extreme drought in our area and worsening conditions across the western two-thirds of the state. This doesn’t include the recent rains which should help ease the drought, help with what wheat there is and allow for the planting of summer row crops. Even if the area receives several inches of rain it would moderate but not eliminate the drought. The six to ten-day outlook (May 11 to 15) indicates a 80 to 90% chance of above-normal temperatures and 33% to 40% chance of above-normal precipitation. The eight to fourteen-day outlook (May 13 to 19) indicates a 40 to 50% chance of above-normal temperatures and near normal to slightly below normal precipitation.
With these recent rains what is the outlook as of now for the 2022 summer crops in the area?
- First, the 2022 wheat crop. It is starting to head, although very short. The yield potential was certainly dinged by the drought conditions but at least overall temperatures were mild. Depending on how much rain a field received, this will help produce a crop, however, the forecasted well-above normal temperatures forecast will speed up grain fill for wheat that has pollinated which doesn’t help. At least as of now, the rust potential is low.
- Conditions permitting, it’s preferable to have dryland corn in the ground by the later half of April and irrigated corn by May. As you move towards mid-May you typically start to lose yield potential but as some recent years have shown, a good crop is possible. It depends on growing conditions. The soil is cool now and the moisture will cause it to warm more slowly but the forecasted air temperatures this week should rapidly raise the two-inch soil temperature to the sixty-degree range. Corn was going in the ground before last weeks rain and should be fine, especially as it’s treated with a fungicide and usually an insecticide. If this rain keeps a producer out of the field until mid-May and they have a full-season hybrid, it might be preferable to switch to a shorter-season hybrid if possible.
- We are just now entering prime soybean planting time for soybeans and should be in good shape. Depending on continuing moisture and how early the wheat crop comes off the field, there may be excellent double-cropping opportunities. Soybean flower initiation is keyed by decreasing daylength, not heat accumulation like corn and grain sorghum so we are in much better shape now than a week ago.
- Finally, the ideal time to plant grain sorghum most years in the area is mid-May through early June so we are in good shape as of today. And with the forecasted hotter, drier summer sorghum may be a better dryland choice, especially when considering the price.
One last item, rains will likely help increase weed pressure. Combined with the difficulty in spraying fields between the wind and now the wet soils, weed management will present its typical challenges.