MANHATTAN, Kan. – Corn planting in Kansas will soon be in full swing, but dry soils are making for a less than ideal start to the season.
Kansas received just 19 percent of the amount of moisture it normally receives during March, said Mary Knapp, assistant climatologist with the Kansas Weather Data Library, based at Kansas State University. From January through March, the state received 42 percent of normal moisture.
As of April 12, topsoil moisture statewide was rated 56 percent short to very short, 42 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus, according to a weekly report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Subsoil was rated 65 percent short to very short, 35 percent adequate and no surplus.
The lack of moisture in southern Kansas particularly, boosted soil temperatures dramatically in late March and early April, close to 55 degrees F at a 4-inch depth, which is near optimal for planting corn, said Ignacio Ciampitti, crop specialist with K-State Research and Extension. Optimal soil temperature is critical for uniform emergence and makes a difference for potential yields.
Conversely, northeast Kansas soils have been slower to warm, partly because they are not as dry.
The USDA reported that 14 percent of the corn was planted in Kansas, ahead of 10 percent last year, and 8 percent average. As of April 12, 1 percent was emerged, compared with 2 percent a year ago and 0 percent average.
The U.S. Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.
Soil temperatures and other information for specific areas in Kansas are available on the Kansas Mesonet (http://mesonet.k-state.edu/ ). The network of weather stations are part of K-State Research and Extension and are maintained by the Kansas State University Weather Data Library.
“March lived up to its reputation as a transitional month,” Knapp said. “Overall, the temperatures averaged 45.7 degrees F, which was 2.4 degrees warmer than normal. That was the 33rd warmest since 1895.”
That told only part of the story, she said, as temperatures went from lows in the single digits at the beginning of the month to highs above 90 degrees F in the middle of the month.
“With the warmer-than-average temperatures, it is not surprising that 79 new record daily highs were set,” Knapp said. “What’s more surprising is that we still had four record low daily maximums.”
The Kansas winter wheat crop, already beset by dry conditions, also was hit with a hard freeze when temperatures dipped into the low- to mid-20s in some areas April 3-4. More information is available at: https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/
On April 13, the USDA rated Kansas wheat 28 percent poor to very poor, 44 percent fair, 26 percent good and 2 percent excellent. Forty-two percent of wheat had jointed, ahead of 29 last year, but equal to the five-year average. The crop was 2 percent headed, compared with none last year and near the 3 percent average.
K-State produces the Agronomy eUpdate for timely updated information on crop progress and weather at https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/