Archive for Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Farmers giving thanks for rain

September 1, 2004

It's about time.

After three consecutive bad years for corn, Mike McGraw took a gamble.

"We planted a lot of corn this year because I was betting that there was no way that we could have four bad corn crops in a row," said McGraw, who farms across the county.

So far, keeping his fingers crossed, McGraw said it looks like his bet may pay off.

"It's going to be pretty good," McGraw said of the 2004 corn crop. "It's going to be better than we've had in a long time."

Good weather, which meant a dry April, allowed time to get the corn planted.

Then, frequent soaking showers and mild temperatures furthered the corn's progress.

"The rainfall has been actually almost perfect for corn," McGraw said.

Though some of his corn in low-lying areas along Stranger Creek has suffered, the rest has prospered.

"The corn on the hills and on some of the corner ground is some of the best I've seen for a long time," McGraw said. "It's going to be a good crop of corn."

And, it's not just his fields. Across the county, corn's looking better than it has in years.

As are soybeans.

"The rain here lately helped the beans a lot," McGraw said. "They're looking good, but they're not going to be as good as the corn is because some of them got planted too late."

And just what might be in store for this year's corn crop?

"There will be a lot of it over a hundred bushels this year," McGraw said. "A lot of 120-bushel corn, I think."

And that would be twice as good as the 2003 corn crop.

"That's considering they made about 60 bushels last year," McGraw said.

This year's crop could be a turnaround year for agricultural producers in the county.

"I think with agriculture, especially in Leavenworth County, we needed a good crop or we were about done," McGraw said. "We've had three bad years up till this year with the drought -- we needed this crop badly."

Rain counts

When state climatologist Mary Knapp came to Tonganoxie Saturday to visit her father, Robert Knapp, she was surprised there wasn't more water standing in the ditches.

Rainfall reports in the county varied, with McGraw reporting at least three inches from Friday night's storm.

But by Saturday morning much of that rainfall had soaked into the ground.

"That's just an indication of how dry it had been," said Knapp who is in charge of the Weather Data Library at Kansas State University.

After two years of below-average rainfall, recent rains have been good news.

Tom Norman, who maintains statistics for the National Weather Service, said that as of Monday, this year's rainfall at his gauge five miles southeast of Tonganoxie has measured 34.79 inches, gaining on what's expected rainfall for this area.

"So far we're real close," Norman said. "I think our average is around 35, so we're real close there."

Knapp said the rains may not be over.

"September is a secondary peak as far as rainfall goes," Knapp said. "We normally see more in September than we do in August, then we move into a dry pattern."

Rainy days

While rain can make for healthy crops and water tables, it can cause havoc with buildings.

But fortunately for the Tonganoxie school district, Superintendent Richard Erickson said, the worst problem occurred along the east side of the elementary school.

"The water climbs along the side of building and enters a couple of those second-grade classrooms through the air vents," Erickson said, noting the district planned to dig trenches along this area.

But, school roofs proved their mettle.

"As far as roof leaks, I don't think we've had anything real significant," Erickson said.

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