Farmers worry about a long-term drought

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — Wheat farmers in Barton County welcomed Thursday’s snow with open arms, especially after the government just released its report on crop conditions. It showed that a cold, dry December took a toll on winter wheat conditions.

Despite the snow, farmers said they are now concerned about the long-term possibility of a drought.

“We’re becoming into the abnormal dry situation that we’ve just gotten out of, and we’re just starting to go back into that,” said Jeff Mauler, the seed department manager at Great Bend Coop.

Climatologists continue to monitor the drought monitor index. KSN learned they’re looking closely at the drought near the Oklahoma-Texas area. The drought pattern is similar to almost six years ago, when Kansas had its big drought.

“If it stays dry to our south, then we will end up with, again, that blocking high that will choke off any moisture into our area,” said Mary Knapp, a climatologist at Kansas State University.

Farmers are now being faced with questions to determine how they could respond to a possible drought.

“Whether or not, you know, we’ll spend that extra money to put down more fertilizer or not,” said Mauler. “That’s some of the questions they’ll have on the winter wheat crop.”

Climatologists tell KSN they’re concerned that if the drought pattern continues into March, and if the state doesn’t return to its normal rainfall pattern — crop conditions will suffer even more, which ultimately impacts the farmers’ bottom line.