Rain coming at wrong time for hard winter wheat
by Laura Lloyd
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KANSAS CITY — Rain, too much and too late, hit Kansas on the weekend, causing concerns that the precipitation may have further damaged a prospective short crop in the top-producing state that likely will begin harvest in about a week.
The truism that “rain makes grain” may not hold under current weather conditions in Kansas. Experts said the 0.75 inch to more than 2 inches that fell in some areas over the weekend may have damaged the crop in the Southern Plains because the wheat was too close to harvest to benefit from precipitation.
Some western areas of Kansas, as well as parts of Oklahoma and Texas had endured about half a year without significant precipitation only to have the rain spigot turn on at exactly the wrong time. And the 6-to-10 day forecast calls for above normal precipitation across much of the region where the hard red winter wheat crop has struggled through excessive cold, drought and now rain at an inopportune time.
“There’s a little bitterness — or there’s a sense of irony about the situation,” said Jim Shroyer, Kansas State Extension agronomist. “The optimist says ‘It’s going to rain’ while the pessimist says, ‘Yes, but it’s going to rain at harvest.’ The producers are not too happy.”
He said the risk of sprouting, which lowers the quality of the wheat, just got much higher in the wake of the weekend rains and the outlook for more to come over the next week to 10 days.
“The winter wheat harvest areas in the central Plains as well as about-to-be harvested areas, got soaked a couple of times over the weekend,” said David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives, a Belton, Mo.-based agricultural and energy weather service. “The Midwest was too wet and will be too wet some more. Look for disease and lodging complaints in the weeks ahead.”
Rain was expected from Minnesota to Texas today, meteorologists predicted. Most of Kansas, including parched areas of Western Kansas such as Colby and Goodland, also was expecting rain today.
The crop moisture map for the state of Kansas placed all but the drought-ridden southwest corner of the state at normal levels.