Area farmers and agriculture experts have their fingers crossed in hopes that recent rains will continue to combat the depletion of soil moisture.
Brian Morray, director of the Douglas County Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service, said winter wheat crops have responded favorably to this week's rain and sunshine. However, he added, "We're still fairly dry and we'd sure like to see some more rain here before people get out and start planting corn. This rain ought to really help the oats and the wheat, but we need to keep it coming."
Dry, cold conditions have affected other parts of the state as well, according to a Kansas Agricultural Statistics report released this week.
The report said only 26 percent of Kansas' wheat crop received a good to excellent rating this week, as dry weather continues to sap moisture from the soil. The cold, dry air that covered most of the state last week was blamed for hurting the wheat's condition. Forty-five percent of the state's wheat crop was rated as fair by KAS and 29 percent, poor.
FARMERS across the state are taking steps to reduce wind erosion, KAS reported, but wind damage to crops already has occurred in some areas.
Only 10 percent of topsoil moisture and 20 percent of subsurface moisture was rated as adequate.
The report also cited high infestations of army cutworms and said wheat spindle streak and soil borne mosaic virus were the most visible wheat diseases across the state.
Garry Keeler, agriculture extension agent with the Douglas County Extension Office, said the soil borne mosaic virus has affected wheat crops on several area farms, but he doesn't expect the disease to become a major problem.
Also, Douglas County farmers haven't reported any serious problems with cutworms so far, he said.
Orville Johanning, Baldwin, said he called Keeler out to his farm earlier this week to look at yellow spots in his wheat, which turned out to be the soil borne mosaic virus.
HOWEVER, Johanning said the areas not afflicted by the virus are growing on schedule and have "greened up" with the rain. "I think the combination of the moisture and the sunshine have got the wheat growing," he said.
Byron Eisele, who farms south of Eudora, said he hasn't seen any diseases or worms in his 140-acre wheat crop. "I think it's looking really good since we got this rain," he said, adding he'll plant corn around mid-April.