A combination of high wind and low moisture have impacted the Pratt County wheat crop.

By Gale Rose

grose@pratttribune.com

Area wheat has taken a double hit with high winds that caused blowing and well below freezing temperatures that continue to impact the wheat crop.

High winds late last week filled the air with dust that assaulted the wheat crop in Pratt County. The wheat crop is still very small with many fields just now being planted. When the wind blows, it covers up the wheat can kill it or at least slow it down.

The combination of wind and dust can also cause static electricity and that is not good for the wheat plant, said Pratt County Extension Agent Mark Ploger.

Static electricity effects the leaf tissue and messes up photo synthesis that is necessary for plant growth. "It does a lot of things to the plant that we don't want to see done at this stage of development," Ploger said.

Wheat is a very hardy plant but it does need some maturity to handle everything weather can throw at it. Sand is very abrasive and can go through a plant. It can cover up a plant and thats never any good.

On top of the high wind and sand, the temperature took a dive and was well below freezing. The combination of the two could have an impact on the wheat crop but it will take some time to see the full effect, Ploger said.

About 60 to 65 percent of the wheat crop has been planted and that includes wheat that was planted as a double crop after soybeans and there has been a lot of planting wheat after beans this year.

A lot of farmers are focusing on getting their soybeans cut before getting back to planing wheat because beans are a better profit crop right now, Ploger said.

Pratt could use a good rain. The last rain in Pratt County was on Oct. 6. While the dry weather has helped famers with harvest, the new wheat crop is much in need of a drink. For those farmers that planted early, the wheat crop is in better condition and held the land better against the wind.

But without rain and strong wind blowing dust, farmers may have to go back and plant some blown out areas again.

"There's a good chance we may see some re-drilling going on," Ploger said.

The optimal time to plant wheat is in the second and third week of October because it helps prevent Hessian Fly development and gives farmers time to destroy volunteer wheat, and there was a lot of volunteer this year.

Now, the cold weather has hit and it can slow down wheat growth too. But the freezing temperatures will help the milo harvest. It will kill the plant and allow it to dry down for harvesting.

But the area still needs rain to produce a healthy crop of wheat that can get through the Kansas winter. It will take some time to find out how the wind and sand and dry weather has affected the crop.

"There's a lot of factors to be taken into consideration," Ploger said.

@GaleR_Tribune