April 17, 2009 Drew Lyon, Extension Dryland Crops Specialist, Scottsbluff: The bulk of the state's recent moisture hasn't really hit here. We've had light sprinkles and are hoping to get some good rain later this week. We've received reports of poor looking wheat due to winter injury; dry conditions, large temperature swings, and a winter and early spring of strong winds -- nothing a nice inch of rain wouldn't help. Moisture in the mountains is looking promising. Some sugar beet ground is being worked. Corn planting should begin in a week or two, but right now soil temperatures are still in the 40s and we're short of moisture.
Mark Svoboda and Brian Fuchs, both of the National Drought Mitigation Center, Lincoln Across the state, areas south of Interstate I-80 have only 25%-50% of normal moisture. Some of these areas had deep soil moisture reserves, but need 1-2 inches of good rain. Through Sunday (April 19), there is a pretty good chance for heavier precipitation from southwest Nebraska and the Panhandle up to Sioux City, with rains of 2-3.3 inches predicted. This system presents a nice opportunity for western Nebraska to receive good precipitation, with good rain tracking across the mid section of Nebraska. Western Nebraska is predicted to have normal temperatures and below normal precipitation after April 19, providing some time for soils to dry out.
Robert Klein, Extension Western Nebraska Crops Specialist: We got a little snow, about 4 inches, from last week's storm, but it came with a lot of wind. Spraying here has been slow due to high winds, and some may have to be revisited after planting. Producers are getting a little bit of field work done, but overall, it's slow going this spring. We've seen winter injury to winter wheat in a few fields where less winterhardy varieties were planted. In some cases the wheat crown developed right at the soil surface, leaving it vulnerable to winter injury.
Keith J. Jarvi, Extension Educator, Dakota, Dixon, Thurston counties: There is little field activity, except for some spreading of manure or dry fertilizer. Some early pre-plant herbicides have been applied. Soil temperatures are still too cool for germination but some bigger farmers may begin planting by the end of the week if it stays dry.
Dewey Lienemann, Extension Educator in Webster County: The surrounding area along the southern tier of counties has not seen the moisture that is sorely needed for this time of the year. The fronts come through giving us plenty of wind but little or no moisture. That pattern seemed to develop over the winter with even snow going south and north of us. The wind seems to be incessant and we have had gusts of over 55 mph from about any direction you can imagine — on several occasions resulting in damage to trees, buildings and pretty much anything that isn't nailed down, including the wheat. I have gone out in several areas looking at wheat, primarily for frost damage. A couple weeks ago we had several nights of less than 10 degrees and our neighbors to the south in Kansas reported freeze damage. I could not find any freeze damage in our area but did see a lot of damage from wind including leaf whip and bruises on leafs from soil particles being whipped up by the wind. This could be a potential problem if disease is introduced through the injuries. The end result of these winds and missing those moisture events is dry topsoil. I have sampled several fields from wheat fields to no-till corn and from soybean stubble to pastures. What was a very nice soil moisture profile is dwindling fast. I went down over 5 inches in several locations before finding moisture and the top inch was just dust. Heavy residue fields had moisture within 3 inches of the soil surface. Some of the early planted wheat, especially south of the Republican River is well into the tillering stage while some wheat that was planted late due to wet fall conditions and late corn, bean and sorghum harvest is just starting to grow. That wheat looks pretty sick. It seems to be lacking some nutrients and probably needs a good drink.
Extension Educator in Clay County Jenny Rees found some wheat soil-borne mosaic in a field southeast of Blue Hill in northern Webster county last week. That particular field also showed signs of nutrient deficiencies. Most fertilizing of corn and bean ground has been completed with fertilizer prices all over the board, depending when and where you got it. A lot of producers are starting to plant corn while others are finishing up fertilizing and preparing fields.
Our pastures are starting to show the effect of wind and lack of moisture. Even the road ditches are behind. Ponds are diminishing and cool season range grasses are behind what it should be. You feel like if we could just get a good drencher that it would pop — but all those missed opportunities are starting to be a concern.