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Seconds please

Published on -8/14/2014, 11:47 AM

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By Tim Unruh

The Salina Journal, Kan.

A helping of rain last weekend was nice, but now farmers want seconds to keep prospects climbing for the fall crop.

Many reported from 0.61 of an inch to 1.42 inches of rain in and around Salina from Saturday night into Sunday morning. Salina Regional Airport measured 0.89 of an inch.

"It helped, but now I need some more right away," said Ralph Johnson, who farms in the Brookville area.

For prospects for fall crops to increase from decent to good, crops need another dash of moisture, and soon. That's particularly true for milo and soybeans.

"I don't think we've got a super crop of milo or beans yet. We need a couple more inches of rain in the next week or two," said Steve Clanton, who farms in northern Ottawa County.

As for the corn, much of it is making ready for harvest, or it's been chopped into cattle feed.

Crops better statewide

Statewide, however, fall crops are supposed to be much better than last year and are counted on to help Kansas farmers rebound from a dismal wheat harvest.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service predicted Tuesday that Kansas' corn, milo and soybean crops would yield much more than last year.

Nothing from these parts has been harvested yet, and the prognosis is much lower than NASS forecasts.

"We've got an average corn crop in this area," Clanton said. "The dryland's going to suffer. The irrigated is going to be all right."

Conditions 'pretty tough'

Tom Maxwell, the agricultural Extension agent in Saline and Ottawa counties, saw some "pretty tough" conditions Wednesday morning while scouting fields.

"We had some rain that spelled us, but we're going to have to have more to have a good fall crop," he said. "We've certainly had some milder temperatures, which is helping greatly, but we need some moisture."

Prospects vary greatly from county to county, Maxwell said, but the general consensus is that the crops are still thirsty.

"There are subtle differences in farming systems and planting dates," he said.

Soybeans planted earlier have suffered more, Maxwell said, and fields farmed without tillage "seem to be faring better through this drought period, but they still need rain."

Corn crop stalled

Milo and soybeans still have potential, he said, but the corn crop "is pretty much made" after showing promise early on in the growing season.

But then the moisture "shut off" and the crop stalled.

"Early on, we were looking at potential yields in the mid-100s, 140 or 150, but since then, it has been scaled back. We even had corn that didn't set kernels on the ears, particularly west of Salina. It was chopped for silage," Maxwell said. "The corn that will be harvested for grain will have kernels that are a little smaller and lighter than we'd like, just because of the lack of rain in July."

Milo is trying to produce heads of developing grain, he said, and soybeans are moisture stressed.

Hot weather on tap

More rain is in the long-range forecast, but not before some scorching days. A temperature of 94 degrees is predicted today with no chance for rain.

Friday and Saturday are expected to be in the upper 90s with only a mild chance for showers. The best chance for rain is Monday through Wednesday.

"It's wait and see right now," Maxwell said. "There is a big variability in crop condition and rainfall amounts."

(c)2014 The Salina Journal

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