Double cropping may be golden…risk

We’re back to the idea that if you like to gamble, why go to casinos when you could just double-crop farm instead.

It seems like the golden opportunity, with perhaps the earliest wheat harvest ever in this area, to plant soybeans after wheat.

That’s especially so with soybean prices in the mid-teens per bushel.

In the normal years, the beans after wheat may have been planted at a riskier time—such as in hot July with its normally drier weather.

But this year we are in early summer with another big “if, and or but,” it’s awfully dry for the time of year.

Thursday night a highly beneficial rain fell on many parts of the county with 1.5 to 2 inches reported.

Marion County Extension agent Rickey Roberts said that with the rain, he would guess “there may be a lot more double crop acres going in…spot on. That would be my educated guess.”

Roberts said he expected most of the acres will go into soybeans because of prices, but farmers needing to feed livestock may opt for a sorghum crop.

Roberts has heard reports from farmers that the dry season up until now has made the wheat stubble ground so tough that they aren’t always able to plant no-till directly into the straw. Instead, they may have to “tear it up” with heavy equipment.

As always, the farmers have to take a chance on whether more rains will follow, Roberts added.

As one farmer in Marion County said about the risk: “I just spent $5,000 putting beans in after wheat. Who knows whether the weather will cooperate so I’ll make it back?”

Jeff Mayfield, agronomist for Ag Service near Hillsboro, said the farmer’s concern is valid.

As a rough estimate, Mayfield said farmers could spend $45 an acre for seed and $10 for herbicide to no-till plant soybeans directly into wheat stubble.

Some bean planting has occurred following combining at the start of wheat harvest, Mayfield said, but it slowed to nearly nothing before last week’s rain: Farmers did not want to take the chance of having no moisture.

Meteorologists across the country are noting that the La Nina pattern in the Pacific Ocean that probably helped bring drought is ending; an El Nino pattern could bring rain here by July.

Right now, agricultural extension workers are saying that’s a “hope so.”

John Holman, extension agronomist for Kansas State University in southwest Kansas, said that in areas of the state with irrigation, soybean prices are high enough that farmers may want to make the financial investment to run water to double-crop beans.

He said he actually expects to see many of them jump at the chance.

Extension workers may include some areas of neighboring McPherson County in that irrigation outlook, but acknowledge that, comparatively, there is little irrigation in Marion County.

Holman predicted some farmers may wait to plant milo or forage sorghum for hay given the abilities of those crops to produce in drier weather.

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