Wheat Crop Hopes Rise on Wet December

Kansas Viewpoint

Moisture helps wheat condition but agronomists say lack of subsoil moisture means crop isn't out of woods yet

Published on: January 12, 2012
The good news is the December rains -- an average of 1.69 inches across the state -- really helped the hard red  wheat crop recover from a dry summer and fall.

Topsoil moisture is now adequate and the current cold spell should help restore winter hardiness to the crop. The extra warm weather of early January -- highs pushing 60 -- were enough to cause the wheat to green up and even start growing across southern Kansas.

But agronomists say that night-time temperatures below freezing are enough to keep the wheat winter hardy and it isn't yet vulnerable to damage from a drop in temperatures such as the one we've experienced in the last couple of days with overnight lows in the teens.

The big threat to the r wheat crop lies ahead, says Kansas State University Extension crop production specialist Jim Shroyer. It comes from the low reserves of subsoil moisture that is available to the crop as it breaks dormancy and begins to grow, typically late February or March.

The growing crop will quickly deplete topsoil supplies and the subsoil moisture isn't there.

Here's to hoping for a few more good, soaking rains.