GARDEN CITY, Kansas – Farmers in southwest Kansas have reported as much as two to four inches of rainfall in the last week, and it’s given some of them a chance to turn off their pivot irrigation systems.
“You bet! I went out and shut one off last night, hoping it would rain,” said Mike Deaver, a grain farmer in Finney County.
The recent rain is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to replenishing the depleting aquifer, but when farmers are only allocated so much well water, a heavy rainfall goes a long way.
Two inches of rain can mean a week without drawing from groundwater.
“We had lots of concerns with running out of water with the depleting groundwater,” said John McClelland, the General Manager at Garden City Coop. “People are up against their allotment, the amount of water they can take out, so this has helped a lot with that.”
The rain won’t save the already failing wheat crop, but it will recharge the sub soil. So, when farmers go to plant next season’s wheat this September, they’ll have a lot of moisture to work with.
“This is huge,” McClelland said. “[There's] potential for next fall’s harvest, which is really our biggest harvest… it’s so exciting.”
Deaver said they’ve spent a lot of groundwater on corn and milo so far, but it could be a promising harvest.
“The rest of it we will plant now that there’s enough moisture for it to get a good start, but we’re going to need more, of course,” he said, “This is just a start.”