Farmers deal with another shot of winter

LAKIN, Kansas – You could be forgiven for thinking your calendar is lying to you, but no, it is late April, and yes, there is snow and freezing temperatures across the state yet again, as another shot of winter presents a challenge to the state’s ag industry.

“Snow is deceiving,” said Gary Millershaski, president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. “If you have a big snow, and in town, it seems like water is running off, on average, it’ll take about a foot of snow to get one inch of moisture.”

Instead, farmers need rain and moisture for their crops to grow.

Although the snow helps insulate wheat crops from some of the freezing temperatures, the drought makes it vulnerable to freeze damage since the crop lacks adequate root structure because of the lack of rain.

“It’s like what [the Humane Society of the United States] would use to advertise to get money they use a wounded dog, that’s our wheat right now,” Millershaski says. “I mean, it doesn’t look good out here, but you go to the central and eastern part of the state, it looks much better.”

Other sectors of agriculture are being impacted as well.

The up and down temperatures are making calving season difficult for ranchers, and many corn farmers have not been able to plant their crop yet.

“We’re already behind our average for getting the corn in the ground,” said John Jenkinson of the Ag Network. “By this time, every year on average we should have about 15 to 20 percent of our corn planted. Right now, we’re only at 3 percent, and these cold, wet conditions are only going to exacerbate that.”

For local farmers, dealing with the elements comes with the job.

“There’s not much that a farmer or rancher can do, just make the best of it, but other than that, it’s delay planting and wait and see if Mother Nature is going to cooperate,” Jenkinson said.

So far, the markets haven’t over-reacted to the cold weather.

The prices are about what they were a month ago.

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