Rain showers falling throughout Kansas the last few weeks have improved the condition of the 2012 wheat crop, according to agriculture agents attending the annual Fall Extension Conference in Manhattan Oct. 19-20.
Kansas Wheat checked in with several agents to learn how the young crop is faring in west central, northwest and north central Kansas.
Jeanne Falk, who covers Thomas, Wallace, Sherman and Cheyenne counties in the Sunflower District, said farmers had good conditions to plant into this fall and subsoil moisture has been in good supply in her four-county area.
"Really, a lot of the wheat in our area is in pretty good shape. We have some spotty stands; we had some dry conditions when we went into planting which is a bit of a concern. Mother Nature came through and we had some rain," Falk said. "We have had a little bit of crusting issues and that been cause for some concern. In reality, the four counties in NWKS are about the sweet spot, and yields last year reflected that. We're in pretty good shape so far. We're going to need quite a bit of help; you don't have to go too far south before it dries out pretty quickly."
In the Walnut Creek District, which covers Rush, Ness and Lane counties, Chris Long said a rain event two weeks ago could not have come at a better time.
"We've heard anywhere from .65 to 2 inches in parts of Lane County. The rain came right when we needed it," said Long, who added that the region is still technically dry. "We're still behind moisture-wise. There were areas of Ness County where the 2011 wheat crop didn't come up until this spring. In those areas, we've seen considerable improvement."
Scott Chapman, who covers the Post Rock District in north central Kansas, says intermittent rains fell upon Mitchell, Jewell, Osborne and Lincoln Counties. "Wheat looks good in the areas that received rain. But there are areas where less than a half-inch of rain fell, and the wheat looks spotty," he said.
Chapman said when it came time to variety selection, farmers in his area relied predominantly on Everest and Armour. Falk said in northwest Kansas, Winterhawk and TAM 111 were the most popular varieties.
"But we've seen a lot of farmers who are willing to try new varieties, because they know planting conditions were pretty good and it is a good chance to plant something different," Falk said.
Meanwhile, in the Walnut Creek District, many farmers are sticking with varieties that have proven yield history.
"A lot of guys still trust TAM 111 and TAM 112, although we've seen some farmers try Winterhawk and Armour because of the yield potential of those varieties, plus their disease resistance packages," Long said.