By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Each year, Kansas State University tests the performance of the major crops grown in the state to provide unbiased, agronomic information to producers, extensional workers and seed industry personnel.
In 2022, Mother Nature had her own plans.
The university’s 2022 tests for four major crops – corn, sorghum, soybeans and sunflowers — were hindered by drought across most of the state. And when dry conditions weren’t the nemesis, untimely weather events – such as hail that wiped out all but one of the sunflower trials – played a part, too.
“It was a rough year for our crop trials,” said Jane Lingenfelser, a K-State assistant agronomist who manages the university’s crop performance tests each year. “2022 was categorized as the worst weather year that Kansas has seen in nearly a decade, and the western half of the state was the hardest hit.
“This was the driest growing season in Garden City in about 130 years of record keeping, according to the Kansas Mesonet, with less than five inches of precipitation recorded by the end of September. In other areas of the state, the period of June through August was the driest on record for southeast Kansas, and the second driest for southcentral Kansas.”
In addition to drought, temperatures routinely hovered around 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Dodge City and Wichita recorded the fourth warmest year on record; Ashland recorded 112 days of 90-degree-plus temperatures, and 43 that topped 100.
In eastern Kansas, Lingenfelser said many areas went from being drought-free, to severe drought over a three-month period.
“There is no part of Kansas that was affected by drought and heat this past year,” she said. “Even our irrigated fields weren’t immune to the effects of drought stress, particularly with numerous days over 100 degrees, and even though there have been tremendous advancements to drought response in commercial hybrids and varieties.”
“But at the end of the day, these (crops) are living organisms that require a base level of inputs in order to survive, and that 4.8 inches of precipitation in Garden City was not (a base level). So, as a result, numerous testing locations failed in 2022 and are not part of this year’s reports on crop performance.”
Detailed results of the 2022 Kansas Crop Performance Tests are available online for each major crop grown in the state – including yields and top performing varieties by region. Copies of individual reports can also be viewed online or purchased from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore, or information is available at local extension offices in Kansas.
Lingenfelser said the Dodge City-based newspaper, High Plains Journal, will be providing copies of the Kansas Crop Performance Tests as inserts in future editions.
“I would encourage everybody to seek out all the sources and years of data they can find” when considering varieties to grow in 2023, Lingenfelser said. “Keep in mind that all of the production factors in 2022 are weather-related and were beyond our control. It’s very important to find the products that fit your management and production practices.”