Marion County’s rainy season affecting crops

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Living in the “fortunate county” isn’t always easy for those farmers “really frustrated” by the need to get spring practices done, but both for them and their peers “content to watch it rain,” Marion County Agent Rickey Roberts said the crop situation is looking good.

“Fortunate county,” Roberts said for several reasons. Even during the climactical months of last summer’s drought, Marion County had a decent wheat harvest, and “at least we had a fall harvest.”

The bleak outlook of no harvest at all came true in much of Kansas last fall, and even as nearby as neighboring counties such as Dickinson, Roberts said.

In addition, Marion County is getting good moisture this year while escaping the disastrous hail and wind storms that have damaged the wheat in nearby counties.

Some farmers have even been able to take advantage of the current market situation to forward contract at an advantage, Roberts said.

The diseases that can come into wheat in wet weather, “the conditions are right for fungus disease,” are only here in limited quantity or have failed to do damage, he noted.

The worst things you can find are the small washed out or drowned out areas you might expect to find.

Roberts said, “The wheat is in good shape. I’m not too concerned about it at all. It is going to be fine.

“We just need some sun and heat to dry it down now, it will ripen fast, and bring it to town.

“It could be really good, even tremendous, but it isn’t in the elevator yet.”

Roberts said the rains that are busting back the last three or four years of drought are building up excellent soil moisture for spring-seeded crops.

For farmers still trying to find dry interludes for spring crop planting, Roberts said, “I am optimistic we’re going to get them in.

“By my own estimates about 35 to 40 percent of the beans and milo have been planted. All the corn to be planted is in the ground.”

The true wet weather dilemma, to cut or not to cut at this time or a time that may equally be bad, is being faced by farmers who are trying to put up alfalfa hay. They haven’t had any good dry conditions to put up the first cutting, Roberts said.

Cutting with a prolonged lay on the ground could result in more mildew, more leaf loss, less quality.

If they wait too long to put up the first cutting, it will become “stemmy,” lower quality with leaves lost. A second cutting could be affected coming up through the first cutting.

“They face the same problems to some degree on the first cutting every year,” Roberts said. “It’s really a perennial dilemma.”

Hay farmers are the farmers who get “really frustrated” with the rain, Roberts said.

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