Jackson County needs more moisture accumulation between now and Spring, according to OSU Extension Agriculture Educator Gary Strickland. “Snow and rain fall this winter was really just not enough,” said Strickland. “We really need several rainfall events to accumulate enough moisture to recharge our soil profile.”
The snow fall before the new year, and succeeding rainfall, has amassed a total of 0.7- 1.0” of precipitation to wet the first few inches of top soil, explained Strickland. That amount will allow wheat-crop seeds to germinate and sprout, but is not enough to dampen the sub-soil, six-inches beneath, where their roots will expand in search of water. The seeds certainly have enough hydration to sprout and germinate, but not enough for them to emerge. The crop will be lost if that’s the case, he said.
“Our recent snow and rain was enough to recharge our soil profile for a brief period of time.”
Some farmers do have aquifers to pump well water and irrigate their fields, but most depend on water from the Lugert-Altus Lake, currently believed to hold 16 percent of capacity, “very little,” continued Strickland. We need rain in Jackson County and north of our lakes to fill the watershed that flows into our crop fields.
“We need to recharge our ponds and soil profile or we will experience drought conditions, ideally 8-12,” Strickland said. Depending on the type and texture of the soil, if some wheat-crops have already emerged, he explained, “it could go on less, but at least 6-8”. Generally another 1.25” of water is needed to moisten the top 6” of soil.
“A drop in the bucket,” he said. This winter’s rain and snow falls certainly helped, but not enough. “We are still waiting on some wheat crops to emerge. Without ample moisture we are unable to produce.” Like last year, it is possible to get a good amount of rainfall through March and April.
“The bottom line: We need a lot more rain to get the wheat to come up!”