Crop Report: Soil Moisture a Concern Heading into Spring


Dry weather continues to be a concern for farmers.That's according to the latest USDA crop progress report.

The report said precipitation for the month ofMarch averaged less than 50 percent of normal across most of Nebraska andcaused soil moisture to continue its decline. Windy conditions added to the decline inmoisture content and kept fire warning levels high.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 16percent very short, 46 percent short, 38 percent adequate and 0 percentsurplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 18 percent very short, 42 percentshort, 40 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus. Winter wheat conditions ratedtwo percent very poor, 11 percent poor, 32 percent fair, 48 percent good and 7percent excellent.

Inthe northern Panhandle, producers said the wheat has broken dormancy and looksgood. The area is still receiving ice and snow and in the area soil moisturelevels rated adequate. Soil erosion was a concern earlier this winter and lastfall, but snow cover this March helped reduce erosion in the area and producersare hopeful for a good crop with good stands.

Inthe southern Panhandle, the wheat is starting to green up and is in the earlystages of tillering and while the have seen ample moisture in the past fewweeks, it has been windy in the area.

Producerssaid 20 percent of the area is starting to top dress. Other producers said itis not warm enough yet for top dressing. The soil moisture levels ratedadequate with select areas experiencing some winter kill and erosion damage.

Inthe northern part of southwestern Nebraska, producers said the wheat has brokendormancy and is greening up and entering the tillering stage.

Theweather has been cool, windy and dry and as a result, soil moisture levelsrated very short to short in different areas. Producers also said top dressingranges from 10-75 percent completed depending on the area and reported slightwind and erosion damage seen in some fields.

Inthe southwest corner, the wheat is greening up with good stands and is in theearly tillering stage. The area is dry with very short moisture conditions andtop dressing in the area ranges from 10-50 percent completed. Producers saidcertain fields have 15-20 percent winter kill.

Insoutheastern Nebraska, 80 percent of the wheat has broken dormancy, but the wheathas yet to begin greening because of the cold and dry weather. The top soilrated short in the area and producers said top dressing is 100 percentcompleted and no winter kill has been seen yet.