If it takes 11 or 12 inches of snow to make an inch of water, most Marion County wheat fields are in the process of soaking up just over an inch or two of the coveted moisture.
“I don’t think we can say we’ve broken the drought, but this moisture has eased the situation,” said K-State research and extension agent Rickey Roberts on Tuesday. “We have the top soil moisture we need and there is enough for wheat to break dormancy and start growing, but we still need more moisture to replenish the subsoil losses we’ve had over the past several years.”
Rural Marion farmer Don Suderman, who has out 650 to 700 acres of wheat along with his son, Kevin Suderman, said the recent snowfall was very helpful to the current wheat crop.
“There are a lot of factors that figure into if it will be a successful wheat crop or not,” Suderman said. “But the moisture from the melting snow is definitely going to very helpful at this point in time.”
Roberts and Suderman said that while moisture was an important consideration for wheat farmers, just as important for filling heads was the temperatures in the fields.
“Wheat needs cool weather to grow,” Suderman said. “It is a pretty tough crop and can make it on a little bit of water, but our success will depend on how long we can keep it cool before those hot winds start blowing.”
Roberts said Marion County was a good place to grow wheat for many reasons, including amount of moisture and average temperatures.
“We are not like England, where in the cooler climates they can grow 80 to 90 bushel per acre wheat,” he said. “But we have enough moisture here, if we can just hold off the heat and stay under 100 degrees until mid- May or so — then we will have a very good wheat crop.”
Roberts said the recent snowfall and resulting moisture was good for area wheat fields, but temperature in the following weeks would be more critical for growth.
“Wheat does not like wet feet,’ Roberts said. “The sooner this melts and soaks in, the better it will be. The slow melt has been a good thing, but we will need more rain at critical times in the days to come.”