HARVEY COUNTY – Despite the recent snow blanketing Harvey County, the long-lasting effects of drought linger.
Ryan Flaming, of the Harvey County Agricultural Extension Office, said farmers may see better wheat yields than anticipated, but there needs to be long-term change for farmers to once again see bumper crops.
“This is very good for the winter wheat. The snow covers the crop and keeps it insulated from the more extreme temperatures,” he said.
As the snowfall begins to melt, Flaming said a slow melt-off will ensure moisture gets into the soil.
“When it melts, it sinks in to the soil, which ensures all the snowmelt is being taken in rather than running off or washing away soil as with heavy rains,” he said.
The timing of this winter’s snowfall probably staved off disaster for the winter wheat crop.
“This is just about perfect timing for the winter wheat. By no means does this save it; but it will do a lot to help it,” he said.
While the snow acts as a temporary patch for the wheat crop, more moisture will be needed in the spring.
“I wouldn’t panic. Right now we’re in decent shape. The rain two weeks ago and the snow late last week and the snow this week – we’re in pretty decent shape for wheat.
Right now we see the potential is still there for good yields. This helps save that potential. We’ll need a lot of moisture in the spring,” he said.
One of the challenges facing farmers is low sub-soil moisture.
“When winter wheat was planted, there were concerns if it had enough moisture to come out and be able to withstand the winter. There hasn’t been a whole lot of winter kill,” he said.
The recent snowstorms have been good for immediate moisture yet it does not remedy a serious, long-term problem.
“We’re pretty dry, pretty deep. It’ll take a while to fix. I’ve been hearing farmers are going down several feet just to get moisture. This isn’t enough to do much for the sub-soil, but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
Flaming said while recent weather will keep the winter wheat from being a failure, farmers should still plan to irrigate heavily this spring.
“This won’t do much for the long run. We still have to run a lot of irrigation to keep crops going. We got an inch or two, but we are going to need a lot more than that to hedge off irrigation pivots,” he said.
This late into winter, there is little farmers can do except plan for spring planting.
“Pray for rain. There’s not much you can really do about it but hope the moisture comes, and you can plant more drought-resistant crops,” he said.
For farmers looking at crop prices, Flaming said it is still too early to tell.
“You never know because of the world market. Russia could have a drought; that would drive up prices. But they tend to drop a bit when there’s rain. But they usually come right back up,” he said.