The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Mark Watson
Panhandle No till Educator 

No Till notes: 'Nice fall weather'


I want to start by thanking everyone for their well wishes following my knee replacement surgery. Everything went well with the surgery and I’m now going through the physical therapy getting a full range of motion back in the knee. I have always thought living in rural western Nebraska is a great place to be where everyone is surrounded by friends, family, and neighbors who are truly concerned for the well-being of one another.

Judging from the view from my couch looking out the window and my trips to the doctor’s office and therapy, we have had one of the nicer falls this year in terms of weather and fall colors. We’ve been blessed with some timely rains and overall good harvest weather to get the crops in the bin.

We did have some problems with winter wheat planting due to dry conditions early in September. We planted our irrigated winter wheat first this year following our field peas. Our dry land acres following the field peas really needed a rain to get the soil in good planting shape.

In the sandier portion of our farm we needed to add additional weight to the drill to maintain proper seeding depth due to dry and hard conditions. We were able to get the seed placed in the 1.25 to 1.5 inch seeding depth we like to plant our winter wheat. We did irrigate the wheat following planting to get the moisture needed to germinate the crop.

When we moved to our heavier soil type fields it was a different story. I don’t recall ever seeing the soil as hard and dry as this year. I suspect the excessive rain we received this spring may have packed the soil tighter than we’ve seen in previous years. There was good subsoil moisture but we were unable to keep a consistent seeding depth even with all the additional weight added to the drill. We decided to irrigate prior to planting the wheat in our heavier soil and wait on the dry land until we could get some much needed moisture.

Fortunately, Mother Nature did bring us a timely rain and we were able to get the dry land wheat planted into good moisture. We were a little late towards the end of wheat planting on our dry land acres as we received another good rain before we finished planting.

I have visited with other producers around the Panhandle who experienced similar conditions planting their winter wheat this fall. A lot of the early seeded wheat had inconsistent stands due to the lack of moisture in the soil. From what I’ve seen around our neighborhood, the stands of wheat filled in pretty well following the rain we received. Some areas of the Panhandle didn’t receive the fall rain and wheat stands are still pretty inconsistent. Some producers may have to replant where the wheat failed to germinate.

Timely rainfall always helps make farming a lot easier. Everything from planting through grain fill is dependent on getting the good rains at the proper time. We have all been through the tough times when the rains don’t come and there isn’t much you can do about it except be patient waiting for the next “million dollar rain.”

Harvesting of corn is in full swing now along with the start of the pheasant hunting season. It’s one of my favorite times of the year to get together with friends and family and enjoy the camaraderie of hunting pheasants in the fall. Being able to walk the fields with two new knees is good incentive for me to continue the rehabilitation of my new knee. Good luck to all of you with your fall harvest.


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