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Gloomy skies may not be good for the soul, but they are good for our wheat fields right now. The wheat plants have broken their winter dormancy. We want the growth now to be steady, not speeded up by unseasonably warm temperatures.

We’re still worried about the drought, so we were glad for yesterday’s mist and snow flurries. Today, a surprise snow storm blew in. It’s hard to tell how much snow we received because of the drifting. Maybe about three inches or so. This latest moisture will definitely help, especially since the wheat is now growing.

We’re still way behind in terms of moisture, however. The National Drought Mitigation Center says Kansas needs 12 to 16 inches of water to fully recover from the drought. This state has crazy weather, so hope that doesn’t come all at once!

Take a look at month 6:

Winter Wheat Field, March 2013

Winter Wheat Field, March 2013

Winter Wheat, March 2013

Winter Wheat, March 2013

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Snow. Lots of it. That’s what is blanketing our wheat as we close out month five. We had two blizzards in five days with about 18 inches of total snowfall. 18 inches of snow doesn’t translate into 18 inches of water. However, even on the conservative side, we received several inches of desperately needed moisture.

What’s even better is that the temperatures have stayed slightly above freezing during the day. That has allowed the snow to melt slowly and seep into the ground and not just run off into the ditches.

The timing was great as the wheat will come out of dormancy within the next few weeks.

It’s nice to feel a little optimism about the crop. And, as my 11-year-old farmer says,”Kansas has never looked this clean.”

Take a look at month five.

Kansas Winter Wheat Field, February 2013

Kansas Winter Wheat Field, February 2013

The tiniest bit of moisture fell a few days ago, when light snow blew in courtesy of Storm Draco. A couple of inches would have been nice. However, it was encouraging to think that maybe winter will bring some drought relief.

Here’s what Kansas State University crop production specialist Jim Shroyer has to say about current conditions:

“A combination of very low temperatures, dry soils and poorly developed wheat has created concern about the current wheat crop’s survival.”

He gives a great overview of what can help or hinder its survival, including the root system, soil temperature near the crown of the plant, and whether the crown is protected enough by the soil:

http://brianallmerradionetwork.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/12-11-12-ksu-news-cold-weather-dry-soils-raise-questions-about-survival-of-wheat/

We’ve worried about yields before, but never about the crop surviving. V. had intended this field for winter grazing for our small cow/calf herd, but its condition is too poor. There is always some yield loss when calves graze early in the year on wheat, but he doesn’t want to add any more stress to this fragile crop. The best thing for the wheat now would be more snow to insulate and protect it from harsh winds.

Winter wheat, December 2012

Winter wheat, December 2012

Winter wheat field, December 2012

Winter wheat field, December 2012

Drought-stressed corn

Drought-stressed soybeans

Drought-stressed alfalfa

Dry creek bed due to drought

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