Wednesday 28th of September 2011 07:59 AM
By Kim L. Fritzemeier
KFRM Central Kansas Reporter
Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line
There's been plenty of dust in the air as Central Kansas farmers begin to plant the 2012 wheat crop. Randy began planting here on September 19. He is planting in a little bit of soil moisture at the moment. However, with no rain on the seven-day forecast (or beyond), the moisture isn't going to last long. So, what's a wheat farmer to do?
In days gone by, wheat farmers would "dust in" their crop, barely scratching the surface and leaving the wheat kernel near the top of the soil. These days, K-State Agronomist Jim Shroyer recommends planting at the same depth as normal. Then there's not as much danger of freeze damage later.
Randy has upped the seeding rate, adding an additional 10 pounds of wheat per acre. If it were to rain, the higher seed population gives an increased chance of spreading out tillers to give ground cover, especially important in a dry year.
We had all the wheat treated with insecticide and fungicide. (That's why it's that festive pink color!) The application increases the costs of planting, but it protects the crop from insects and disease.
Some people haven't started drilling wheat yet. Others have. It's hard to figure out the right thing to do. The optimal time to plant in this part of the state is October 1-5. However, with the light rain shower September 16-17, Randy decided to use the moisture he had. Since wheat is our primary crop, we can't get the whole crop planted in the optimal "window" anyway.
This year, there's another complication. With the grass supply in pastures dwindling, he's planning to round up cows and calves from their summer pastures beginning October 3.
So, right or wrong, it's wheat planting time on the County Line. We'll see whether or not the gamble pays off. It's kind of like giving birth: You don't know what you're getting into for 9 months. Then you do.
(For more detailed information about planting wheat, click here for my blog post from last year.)