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Drought solutions for Kansas wheat harvest

Drought solutions for Kansas wheat harvest

By Scout Nelson

Drought conditions across parts of Kansas have significantly affected wheat growth this year, leading to adjustments in harvesting techniques. Romulo Lollato, a wheat production specialist at Kansas State University, has provided essential guidance for farmers facing these challenges.

"The Kansas crop is not uniformly short. A very sparse and variable rainfall distribution created these ‘waves’ within areas where tall and short plants occur, simultaneously, in those locations," explained Lollato.

This variability has led to the recommendation of employing stripper headers on combines, which are particularly effective in harvesting shorter plants.

Stripper headers work by stripping the grain heads from the plants while leaving most of the stem standing. This method not only increases the efficiency of the harvest but also contributes to a cleaner grain product entering the combine.

The leftover crop residue acts as a natural weed barrier, shades the soil to reduce temperatures, and helps retain moisture.

This technique enhances soil protection in semi-arid areas by reducing water loss through evaporation and preventing soil erosion. Future crops benefit from this practice as well, with improved conditions for planting and reduced weed competition.

For farmers not ready to invest in a stripper header, Lollato notes that conventional headers are still viable. Adjustments can be made to these headers to optimize performance in stunted fields. "The most important thing to keep in mind is to maintain the cutting height as high as possible," he advises.

These insights are crucial for producers aiming to mitigate the impact of drought on their wheat yields and soil health.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-tlillico

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Categories: Kansas, Crops, Wheat, Weather

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