GARDEN CITY, Kansas – In southwest Kansas the wheat crop is fighting to survive in less than perfect conditions.
“Every day we go without rain, our potential just goes down a little bit,” said Gary Millershaski, a wheat farmer in Lakin and the President of the Kansas Association of Wheat Farmers. He said the wheat in the region has about a 40 percent chance of making it to harvest at this point.
“Another week, maybe a week and a half without any type of moisture, we’ll have to give up on this year’s wheat crop,” said wheat farmer and agriculture expert John Jenkinson.
The lack of rain has dried up the soil, and the wind is sucking away any moisture left over. The wheat farmers can’t turn to irrigation to fix the problem, unlike other crops like corn, it’s not worth the cost to water wheat, so farmers rely on rainfall.
In a season like 2014, farmers use tactics like chiseling to rough up the surface to keep the wind from taking all the soil, but it means sacrificing part of the crop.
“That’s like a dagger to your heart,” said Millershaski.
While they hope for rain, the weather has put them on the edge of losing the harvest all together.
“You could flip a coin and whether it landed on heads or tails could decide what it is,” said Millershaski.
Jenkinson said a rough season is an occupational hazard for farmers. “Farmers are resilient, they’ll come back again next year, they’ll keep trying and continue until it does work,” he said.
If they lose their crops the farmers will take a hit, but the loss for them shouldn’t have a major affect on the cost of wheat products in the grocery store.