Wheat planting conditions in Kansas: October 11, 2019

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A drier pattern dominated September in the western parts of Kansas; however, central and Kansas received considerable amount of precipitation in the last 15 days (Figure 1, upper map). Thus, estimated root-zone soil moisture is relatively low in the west as compared to central and north central Kansas (Figure 1, lower map).

Figure 1. Total cumulative precipitation for the period between September 26 and October 10, 2019 (upper panel), and soil water storage in the upper 50 cm (lower panel). Maps by the Soil Water Processes lab, K-State Research and Extension.


Weather Forecast

The weekly quantitative precipitation forecast for Kansas indicates that the probability of precipitation for the next seven is very low (Figure 2)., which might favor sowing development in central Kansas but will not help alleviate the water deficit stress in western Kansas.

Figure 2. Weekly precipitation forecast as of October 11, 2019 by the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center (NOAA). Precipitation probabilities in Kansas for the next 7 days are nonexistent.


Possible challenges for wheat planting and crop establishment

As of October 6, 2019, the wheat-planted acreage in Kansas was 45% according to the USDA-NASS crop progress report. This is close to the 5-year average of 47%. The majority of the development in planted area was likely in the western portion of the state, as the central portion had significant amount of precipitation in the last 15-days and likely many fields did not get planted (Figure 1).

With about 55% of the winter wheat area still to be planted and a dry forecast, the crop sowing progress is likely to increase considerably in the next days. Perhaps the biggest challenges will include sowing into dry soils. Planting wheat into a dry topsoil can also be challenging. While a good seed distribution is generally achieved when sowing wheat into dry soils, if the forecast rain does not materialize, the lack of moisture for germination can result in uneven stands and high within-field stand variability (Figure 3), which can ultimately impact grain yield. Otherwise, the forecast rain will help ensure a good stand establishment. For more consideration when planting in dry soils, please see the accompanying article in this eUpdate issue.

Figure 3. Uneven wheat stands resultant from sowing into dry soils. Photo by Romulo Lollato, K-State Research and Extension.


Romulo Lollato, Wheat and Forages specialist

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library

Andres Patrignani, Soil Water Processes Scientist