Which is a greater concern: Lack of soil moisture or snow?
How is your soil moisture, and is your ground frozen yet? In other words, if you did get some precipitation, would it soak in or run off and be lost to the 2012 crop? That is a significant concern to many farmers because of the resurgence of La Nina late in the year and only spotty moisture has fallen where widespread areas have less than adequate topsoil and subsoil moisture to get the 2012 crop off and running in good fashion. Let’s check around the Cornbelt for an update on soil moisture and how the winter wheat crop is doing.
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is reporting a lack of snow cover on a lot of the winter wheat crop, but increased precipitation is allowing soil moisture levels to recover, at least in the topsoil. Many subsoil readings are not available.
ILLINOIS: Topsoil moisture is rated as 86% adequate and 9% surplus. Wheat producers reported favorable conditions, but some are concerned about the lack of snow cover. Winter wheat conditions stand at 2 percent poor, 17 percent fair, 72 percent good, and 9 percent excellent.
INDIANA: December was both warmer and wetter than normal in Indiana. The state average temperature of 36.7º was 5.5º above normal while 4.55 inches of precipitation fell which was 1.49 inches above normal. A limited amount of corn remains to be harvested in some eastern counties, but farmers will have to wait until the ground freezes hard enough to support equipment. Winter wheat is reported to be in mostly good condition as temperatures have not been cold enough to cause much winter kill or heaving, since there is no snow cover.
IOWA: Topsoil moisture levels rated 24% very short, 31% short, 44% adequate, and 1% surplus. Most of Iowa had no need for a snow shovel in December as the State experienced above normal temperatures and below normal snowfall. Warm weather and a lack of snow cover on fields were noted.
KANSAS: Topsoil moisture 7% very short, 17% short, 69% adequate, 7% surplus. Winter wheat condition 2% very poor, 7% poor, 38% fair, 46% good, and 7% excellent. Range and pasture condition 28% very poor, 25% poor, 32% fair, 15% good. Stock water supplies 11% very short, 19% short, 69% adequate, 1% surplus. Most areas of Kansas received much needed moisture during the month of December with thirty-four of the 52 stations reporting over 2 inches of precipitation. The Southwest District is still very dry with 64% reported short to very short for topsoil moisture. For 2011, only 11 of the 52 stations received above normal precipitation. The precipitation at the end of December helped to replenish water in many stock ponds, but more is necessary to fill ponds to capacity.