Warm Weather Is Double Edged Sword For Wheat Farmers

Kansas Viewpoint

TV weathermen rave about 'nice' weather but farmers look at moisture loss with worry as wheat fields green up and ground cracks

Published on: January 24, 2012
TV weathermen are on a nightly rant about how "nice" the January weather is as temperatures in the 50s and 60s continue to dominate the scene, with more of the same in the forecast for the end of the month.

As we move toward February, we're nearing the end of traditional winter and farmers are watching wheat fields with trepidation. Moisture loss at this time of year is critical to wheat farmers and it is occurring in a serious way.

South Central Kansas has received no rain or snow for almost 30 days. That's not unusual for the winter. And it wouldn't matter if temperatures were in the normal range of 20s and 30s. At those temperatures, nothing grows, including winter wheat. That's not true this year.

Even as Kansas farmers watch their wheat fields green up and start to grow, they also see the ground crack open from lack of moisture, a worrysome reminder that the crop can only draw on very limited resources.

Those same farmers are alarmed to see a proliferation of winter weeds in wheat fields as well as fallow fields as the temperatures allow for those cold-weather pests to get a big head start on spring.

It's "nice" to walk out the door in a light sweater and hop into a car that doesn't need the windows scraped in the middle of January.

It's also a reminder that this climate is NOT, NOT friendly to farmers.