Receding drought impacts Kansas agriculture

GARDEN CITY, Kansas– After an extended period of drought there has finally been some relief from Mother Nature.  In the last month drought across the country fell by nearly 13%.  In Kansas drought coverage fell from 68% to just 5%.

“It’s a blessing to get rains like we’ve had this spring,” said Kearny County farmer Randy Hayzlett.  “It’s been a long time since we’ve had moisture like this.”

A really long time and now farmers like Hayzlett are enjoying the benefits.

“It’s been years since we haven’t been fired up and running almost full tilt on irrigation like we have this year.  You know we’ve been off more than we’ve been on,” he said.

By pumping less water the supply of groundwater is finally catching a break.

“When it rains, particularly on irrigated ground, and it rains a lot and that ground drinks it then there’s clearly beneficial recharge,” explained Mark Rude, Director of the Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District #3.

The rains have gotten more water into the soil and helped grazing cattle, but it has caused some trouble too.  Delaying corn and alfalfa planting and now pre-harvest sprouting could threaten the wheat crop.

“There’s so much moisture that the wheat actually will start growing from itself, it becomes worthless at that point,” KSN Ag expert John Jenkinson said.

Texas has already seen some fields sprout, but producers here say bleaching is more likely to hurt the crop quality.  So while all this rain is certainly a good thing in terms of getting us out of this drought too much of it at this point could spell disaster for Kansas wheat crops.

Hayzlett said his irrigated wheat is still looking good and he’s confident that Kansas sunshine and wind will come around in time.  If they do a balance of rain and sun from here on out would, of course, be ideal.

“We hope the weather continues in a pattern that has broken the continued drought and that we can keep some rainfall coming,” Hayzlett said.

The rains have filled the John Martin Reservoir up to its highest level in 15 years and Kansas will likely call for that water in the near future.

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