Archive for Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Rain stalls wheat harvest in county

June 25, 2003

This week's gully-washers gave little comfort to area wheat farmers.

Tom Norman, who keeps rainfall statistics for the National Weather Service, said his rain gauge about seven miles southeast of Tonganoxie received a total 1.65 inches of rain on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

But a few miles north, unofficial rain gauges measured a total of 3 to 4 inches of rainfall from Sunday and Monday's showers.

Norman had planned to start harvesting his wheat early this week.

The rain will likely hurt the test weight, he said.

"It lowers the test weight," he added. "It kind of bleaches the grain out."

But at least the wheat seems to have stood tall, he said, despite the pummeling of raindrops.

Rick Abel, executive director for Leavenworth County's Farm Service Agency, lives in Jefferson County, where 3 inches of rain fell Sunday afternoon.

"It came down pretty hard there about 1 in the afternoon," Abel said. "We got a little bit of hail and some high winds and the rain came down very hard and beat some of the corn down. But we were lucky to get the moisture."

Subsoil moisture levels, Abel said, were low prior to the rain.

Across the area, the wheat has been looking good, he added.

"I've talked to several farmers," Abel said. "I think we're looking at a bumper crop."

Abel is guessing that, if conditions are right, wheat yields will range from 45 to 60 bushels to the acre.

"Which is an extremely good yield," he said.

For corn and soybeans, Abel said, the rains came in the nick of time.

"The corn was needing moisture very badly, as well as the soybeans," Abel said.

It's far too early to make predictions on this year's crop of corn and soybeans. The success of the crop will depend on the weather.

"If we could get a two-inch rain every two weeks, we definitely would raise a crop this year," Abel said.

Mary Knapp, state climatologist, said recent rains haven't made up for last year's drought.

"You're probably a little more than two inches behind," Knapp said. "You didn't gain that much in May."

But she said the rains that have fallen a couple of inches at a time have been just the right amount to soak in.

"It's doing the drought reduction in the way that we'd like to see it -- gradually," Knapp said. "It's coming in a timely enough fashion that we get the best benefit from it."

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