The growing season is running late in the Salina area, but it could end over the weekend if temperatures dip low enough.

The forecast calls for a low Saturday of 32 degrees in Saline County, said Mary Knapp, service climatologist at Kansas State University in Manhattan. That's still too warm for a killing frost, which would put perennial plants into winter dormancy. A killing frost requires a chill of 24 to 25 degrees.

“You guys are running about 6 degrees warmer than normal for October and just a shade under 5 degrees warmer year to date,” Knapp said.

Areas of northwest Kansas, such as Osborne and Sherman counties, already have felt the sting of killing frosts this fall, said Tom Maxwell, agricultural Extension agent for Saline and Ottawa counties.

He pointed to December 1959 data from the Kansas State University Ag Experiment Station that set the first killing frost in Saline County between Nov. 5 and 10.

This season’s extended warmth has helped some of the late-planted soybeans that need further development, Maxwell said.

“With the moisture we’ve received, it’s been beneficial for the double-crop beans, but it’s probably time for a freeze to try and dry this milo down and get it harvested,” he said.

Weather hot, dry

Overall, the  corn and soybean yields have been sub-par, he said, thanks to hot and dry conditions during critical crop development periods over the summer.

Normal precipitation for January through Oct. 27 is 29.11 inches in Salina, Knapp said. So far this year, 25.28 inches have been logged. More then double normal rainfall, 5.74 inches, has been measured in Saline County this month. Normal is 2.07 inches, according to weather data.

Crop yields down

Joe Kejr, who farms throughout Saline County, is ready for fall harvest to conclude, given poor corn and soybean yields.

“The bean (yields) have not been where we like them to be, but they’re better than I thought they could be,” he said. “We’ll be glad to be done with harvest and hope and pray for a better year next year.”

Milo in the county appears more promising, Maxwell said.

“Visually, some of it looks like it could be pretty respectable,” he said.

Farmers in north-central Kansas did receive a break from the sugarcane aphid, Maxwell said, which claimed heavy casualties in 2016.

Common dryland soybean yields have been from 10 to 30 bushels to the acre.

“That’s not very good, definitely below average,” he said. “Some of the dryland corn was chopped for silage.”

Corn harvested for grain has been yielding 15 to 50 bushels to the acre.

“Thirty to 50 would catch a lot of it,” Maxwell said.

Planting delayed

Wheat planted in late September, before the rains, is “growing pretty nicely,” he said, but completing the planting has been a challenge because of wet conditions.

Now, farmers are planting more wheat seed per acre to compensate for less tillering later into the season.

Each tiller that a wheat plant produces will become a wheat head next spring.

“You ideally like to have three to five tillers going into winter, from one germinating seed,” Maxwell said. “But we can have 10 or more tillers if it’s planted with good moisture.”