PRATT — Days to grow cotton in Kansas are limited and after a month of rain in May, many Pratt County farmers are playing catch up with planting spring crops, especially those who wanted to get cotton seed in the ground.
Roger Sewell, former seed salesman for Next GINeration Cotton Gin and local cotton farmer, said he should have all his planting done by June 8 as June 10 is looking more like the last day to get cotton in the ground.
“We’re getting close to being out of time,” Sewell said. “I wouldn’t plant anything after the tenth. It won't mature in time to harvest.”
Some farmers are considering other crops, milo or soybeans, to replace cotton acres because it has been too wet to plant. The hardest hit areas are north of the north Pratt County line in St. John, Macksville and Radium, into Stafford County. Some fields still have water setting in them there.
Sewell said that most cotton farmers wanted to start planting May 10, but rain followed rain in May and that just didn’t happen. The situation for cotton is getting serious for several reasons.
Pratt County Extension Agent Vicki Simonsen said only 10 to 20 percent of the crop has been planted in Pratt County.
“It’s been really tough getting everything planted. Cotton is really behind,” Simonsen said.
As if just getting the seeds in the ground hasn’t been enough for area farmers to worry about, there is also an insurance issue looming, especially for cotton and corn farmers. Cotton farmers have to sign up for crop insurance by March 15 to get cotton insurance with a final plant date of June 1. They can apply for preventive planting until June 16 if they were prevented from planting and that includes rain, said Sue Peachey, of Peachey Insurance.
“I’ve been getting a lot of calls for preventative planting for both cotton and corn,” she said.
Planting is also running behind with other crops, according to Simonsen. From 70 percent to 80 percent of the corn has been planted in Pratt County but only about 30 percent to 40 percent of the soybeans are in the ground.
There have also been emergence issues with corn in the area. Along with the rains came cooler temperatures and the soil wasn’t wasn’t warm enough to get the corn growing, Simonsen said.
In flooded areas, crops were destroyed or it was just too wet to plant at all. Some areas have just recently been replanted and others are just now getting planted.
While farmers continue to get the spring crops in the ground, they are also watching the ripening wheat crop. Simonsen said reports coming in showed that overall, the wheat crop still looks fairly good. The early planted crop looks like it could have a high yield potential but with some crop was killed because of flooding. In places were fields were flooded, wheat has died because it couldn’t carry on oxidation that allows plants to absorb nutrients from the ground. Without this process, nutrients are not accessible.
The later wheat outlook as a lower yield potential. It didn’t tiller as much and for the most part, the heads are not as large, Simonsen said.
Wheat in many parts of the Pratt and Stafford counties is starting to turn color and it is maturing about a week late because of all the moisture. Wheat tries hard to produce a crop. Farmers, and the rest of the ag sector, will just have to wait to see what happens.
“We’ll have to see what the weather holds for us,” Simonsen said.