Emma:Drought and Double-Cropped Let-Down

The wheat around Andale, Kan., has been averaging 40 bushels/acre. Compared to what we had in Oklahoma this is fantastic wheat. There has been one thing that has caught me off guard though. Apparently in this part of Kansas is worse off than I thought when it comes to drought conditions. I’ve been talking with some of the local farmers and one in particular, Orin Winter, says that since November they have only had a total of four inches up until these past couple of weeks. I guess a girl coming up from Oklahoma where the drought is severe didn’t realize how bad it was in this neck of the woods.

So how can a place so dry, have such decent wheat? It’s likely a combination of recent rains and cooler temperatures that saved the crop. The right amount of rain at the perfect time in the growing season will drastically effect the outcome of the wheat. In Oklahoma we just weren’t fortunate enough to get the much needed rain during the season – and that resulted in very poor wheat.

Yesterday we had a very windy day. The gusts were 40 to 45 mph non-stop. With that kind of wind there was bound to be dust flying despite all the rain in the past week or so. These conditions make me think of what back in the Dust Bowl era must have seen.

With the moisture situation double-cropped fields are hurting and we’re seeing 15 to 20 bushels/acre on double-cropped wheat. There was no moisture in the ground when the wheat was planted after soybeans last fall. This is resulting in short, poor wheat that looks similar to what we harvested in Oklahoma. Some of the double-cropped ground has also had hail damage.

Here’s a photo of what I’m talking about.

As you can see, the wheat is severely broken off, damaged by the hail.

I am cutting as low as I possibly can, and we’re still likely leaving a lot behind.  If we were to run a straight head, we would not have been able to get nearly as much as we did. This is one of the reasons we like to run flex heads.

One of the double-cropped fields we cut. Obviously very thin.

Thunderstorms are still a regular occurrence every day and we’ve been dodging them left and right. These storms seem to be just teasing us – only dumping a quarter inch, up to three-quarters of an inch of rain at a time. The ground is so dry that the rain hits the ground and almost immediately evaporates right back into the air. Harvesting here in Andale has been very odd for us. I don’t remember a time where it would rain three-quarters of an inch, and the following morning we’d be able to cut again. I think the strange phenomenon is a combination of Kansas heat, wind and the drought.

Some of the sights we have been seeing every day since we arrived in the Andale area.

In a matter of three to four hours, puffy white clouds turn into massive thunderstorms. I’m in awe. I love watching them grow. God sure does have an imagination!

Be safe and God bless!

Emma can be reached at emma@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

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