Kazakhstan farmers do not expect good things to happen in autumn

The agricultural season of this year began very towardly for the peasants. Winter was snowy, so the spring moisture reserve in the soil was not bad. It was abundant enough for the first stage of plant development. But further development of wheat went in arid conditions, therefore Kazakh farmers do not expect anything good in autumn, writes the correspondent of “KazakhZerno.kz” edition.

During the sowing season, in May, precipitation was sufficient, supporting seeds of grain crops. And in this respect, the spring of this year was much more favourable than the previous one.

– If last year the amount of precipitation in May was 16.5 mm with an average annual rate of 37.6 mm, then in May of this year 52.4 mm fell out – 140% of the norm, – says Nikolai Yushchenko, head of the scientific department of Karaganda Research Institute of Plant Growing and Breeding – However, the first two summer months changed the situation in inversed manner. In June, only half of the precipitation from the norm fell down, in July – 40% (17.7 mm at the rate of 43.9 mm). And, summer rains did not fall down at once in a large volume, but a little at a time. And if the precipitation falls less than 5 mm at a time, they do not really benefit the development of plants.

Naturally, the lack of moisture significantly affected crops. In addition, the temperature of the summer months was above the norm by 1.1 degrees. They managed to withstand the shoots only thanks to the moisture reserve, which has been preserved in the lower layers of the soil since the spring. But now this resource is exhausted, and there is no moisture left for the final stage of crop formation, grain filling.

“The wheat filling will be weak,” said Nikolai Yushchenko. – We will get the small grain. Perhaps its quality in terms of gluten content will be good due to hot weather, but this is still a question. It is possible that the head will be empty, and the protein content will be low.

Rains would help to rectify the situation. They will also be able to improve the quality of grain, and increase the yield by 15-20%. The leaf surface on the stems is still preserved, and further development of the grain is possible. However, there is fewer and fewer time to wait for the grace of nature. Because of the dry summer, grain will ripen earlier than last year, so that wheat harvesting will begin in the third decade of August, and barley is even earlier.

“We’ll try to harvest the barley next week,” says Victor Prib, director of “Karoy” LLP (Nurinsk district of Karaganda region). – We have 1,000 hectares, and the fields are already standing yellow, in the stage of wax ripeness. The full-ripe stage is about to come, and then we will start harvesting. And in the late of August we will start wheat harvesting, which we have on 4,000 hectares.

As for crop prospects, thanks to a good spring the plants came in excellent condition to the stage of tillering, so that each grain gave 3 to 4 shoots. But because of the drought that followed in summer, all the shoots failed to develop, and now their number is estimated by specialists at 1.8 from each seed. That is, the initial perspective of the harvest has decreased by half. In figures it is 7 – 8 quintals per hectare, whereas last year farmers of the Karaganda region collected 14 quintals / hectare.

Vyacheslav Shamardin, director of “Zhana ai” LLP (Osakarovsky district of Karaganda region), thinks that it is premature to make final forecasts for the harvest. Of course, the drought affected the grain formation. However, it can still change. Both, for the better, and for the worse. In addition to the weather, there is another factor – plant diseases. Last year in Central Kazakhstan, for the first time in half a century, the septoriosis, unusual for the region, had massively spread. The appearance of this fungal disease was associated with the excess humidity of the summer-2016. However, the disease showed itself this season as well. Despite the absence of rain, a sharp temperature difference in its hand during day and night plays into the hands, due to which the abundant dew falls. On the one hand, they somehow support the plants, on the other – they allow septoriosis to develop.

-“We had to completely treat our fields with fungicides,” says Vyacheslav Shamardin. – For a while the disease receded, but we monitor the situation further. You may have to do one more treatment.

In “Zhana Ai” the situation is not simple for one more reason: five years ago they started using the minimum seeding technology there. It allows you to do without plowing fields and keep moisture in the ground due to less evaporation. In the current dry year, this turned out to be a big advantage – wheat in the fields of “Zhana Ai” feels good. The reverse of the coin – with the “minimum” in autumn, straw is not removed from the fields, but is crushed, covering the soil with a solid carpet. On the one hand, this is a fertilizer, on the other it ia a favorable environment for the development of diseases.

– To combat septoriosis, it is recommended to plow in plant remains in the soil in autumn, – says Vyacheslav Shamardin. “We really would not like to return to the dump technology with the plowing of fields, as this would mean giving up everything we’ve worked on for five years. But let’s act according to the situation. Every year, we face new “surprises”, and every year we have to struggle with them, making adjustments to the applied technologies and setting up experiments in the process. Of course, such instability does not give anything good to the development of our economy.

Sergey Buyanov

“KazakhZerno.kz” newspaper

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