Central Kansas has received some much-needed rain over the past few months but it hasn’t been enough to counter the wind and heat that has settled in for the summer. Constant 30 mph winds and 90-plus degree temperatures are great when we need the wheat to drop moisture or the fields dry out before planting. But it’s not as welcome when corn is trying to mature and soybean are attempting to emerge from the soil.
Kansas started 2012 with a moisture deficit. The winter was dry and spring saw only occasional showers. We had enough moisture to produce a decent wheat crop but now that corn, soybeans and grain sorghum are attempting to grow, moisture levels in the ground are dwindling – and quickly. And it’s not just the crops, but also the pasture ground we use for our cattle, that is drying up. Dry ground produces fewer usable grasses and ponds have less water available to the animals. According to an article published by Drovers Cattle Network, almost half of Kansas’ pasture land is considered in poor or very poor condition. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of the state in moderate to severe drought. And it’s only June. July and August are not months known for rain and cool temperatures.
Our farm received about 2.5 inches of rain last week and we are already in need of more. Meteorologists were forecasting a 50 percent chance of rain for our area so we are crossing our fingers. If we do not receive ample amounts of moisture in the next few weeks, our non-irrigated corn will not produce usable ears of corn and soybeans will also fail to produce beans. Because we also own cattle, we will still be able to use the plants but it means a smaller fall harvest.
So will continue to hope and pray for rain. In the meantime, you will be able to find my husband and his crew irrigating whatever possible. Thankfully we have the resources to do so, not everyone is as fortunate. Changes in water usage rules will allow us to pump our full allotment this year, even though we exceeded our pumping limits last year. We will, however, have to cut back on our water use the next three years so that our five-year usage average does not exceed our annual water allotment. My husband helped advocate for the rule change and I think it will prove very helpful this year.