The university’s trials were hampered by drought and other statewide weather events
By PAT MELGARESK-State Research and Extension News Service
MANHATTAN – Each year, Kansas State University tests the performance of major crops grown in the state to provide unbiased agronomic information to producers, extensive workers and personnel in the seed industry.
In 2022, Mother Nature had her own plans.
The university’s 2022 testing of four major crops — corn, sorghum, soybeans and sunflowers — was hampered by drought in most of the state. And when dry conditions weren’t the nemesis, premature weather events, such as hail that wiped out all but one of the sunflower trials, also played a role.
“It’s been a tough year for our crop trials,” said Jane Lingenfelser, an assistant agronomist at K State who manages the university’s annual crop performance trials. “2022 was ranked the worst weather year 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 record years, according to the Kansas Mesonet, with less than five inches of rainfall recorded by the end of September. Elsewhere in the state, the June through August period was the driest on record for southeastern Kansas and the second driest for southcentral Kansas.
In addition to the drought, temperatures routinely hovered around 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Dodge City and Wichita had the fourth warmest year on record; Ashland has logged 112 days of temperatures over 90 degrees and 43 days that have surpassed 100.
In eastern Kansas, Lingenfelser said many areas went from drought-free to severe drought in a three-month period.
“There’s no part of Kansas that was affected by drought and heat last year,” he said. “Even our irrigated fields were not immune to the effects of drought stress, particularly with numerous days above 100 degrees, and even though there have been tremendous advances in drought response in commercial hybrids and varieties.”
“But at the end of the day, these (crops) are living organisms that require a basic level of inputs to survive, and that 4.8 inches of rainfall in Garden City was not (a basic level). As a result, numerous test sites failed in 2022 and are not part of this year’s crop performance reports.”
Detailed 2022 Kansas Crop Performance Test results are available online for each of the major crops grown in the state, including the top performing crops and varieties by region. Copies of individual reports can also be viewed online or purchased at the K-State Research and Extension bookstore, or the information is available at local extension offices in Kansas.
Lingenfelser said the Dodge City-based High Plains Journal will provide copies of the Kansas Crop Performance Tests as inserts in future editions.
“I would encourage everyone to look for every source and year of data they can find” when considering which varieties to grow in 2023, Lingenfelser said. “Keep in mind that all inputs 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.”