Archive for Wednesday, January 23, 2002

More mositure needed to give subsoil a boost

January 23, 2002

The weekend's snow flurries dampened the soil but not nearly enough, farmers say. The area received about 3 inches of snow on Friday and Saturday.

"The subsoil moisture is almost depleted," said Danny Shoemaker who works at McGraw Fertilizer. "The snow didn't really amount to anything as far as subsoil moisture. It's got a few of the old-timers concerned."

According to the National Weather Service, these were the top five driest winters in northeast Kansas: Precipitation Winter 0.58 inch (1919-1920) 0.74 inch (1922-1923) 1.02 inch (1916-1917) 1.39 inch (1969-1970) 1.76 inch (1977-1978)

Harry Morgan, hydro-meteorologist technician for the National Weather Service, Pleasant Hill, Mo., said it looks as if the above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation may continue.

"We've had a pretty dry winter," Morgan said.

January precipitation usually averages out to 0.79 of an inch, Morgan said. Since Jan. 1 this year, precipitation statistics at Kansas City International Airport show 0.25 of an inch.

Bill Norman, who lives about six miles southeast of Tonganoxie, keeps track of rainfall for the National Weather Service.

"It's been real low," Norman said. "The topsoil is pretty short on moisture."

Norman, who also farms, said he's concerned about the wheat crop.

"You usually like to have a little snow cover on it because that protects it from the cold," Norman said Monday afternoon. "We haven't had that until recently and I guess that's leaving."

And, at McGraw's, where employees keep track of rainfall data, Shoemaker said the area received about five inches of rain in September, and fewer than two inches in October, with no measurable precipitation in November or December.

"I don't remember a winter being this dry," said Shoemaker, who has worked at McGraw's for 13 years. "We had a dry year in 1993 because I remember we worked all winter, but usually we hit rain or snow, and shuts us down."

Norman, who with his father has kept track of area rainfall for more than 40 years, said he doubts this year's precipitation will match up to the 52 inches that drenched the area from January through September of 2001. Average annual precipitation for Tonganoxie runs from 33 to 35 inches, he said.

"I'm hoping for an average year, but I would just kind of guess we might be on the dry side," Norman said. "But you never know it could always change overnight."

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