Drought Improves But 90% of State Still in Worst Categories

Drought Improves But 90% of State Still in Worst Categories

Exceptional drought, the worst category, still applies to 55% of Kansas; entire state still severe, extreme or exceptional.

The good news is drought conditions have improved in Kansas over the last week.

The bad news is, much of the state continues to be mired in the worst category of drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor.  D4, or exceptional drought, encompasses 55% of the state, down from 67% last week.

About 90% of the state is in either D3 or D4, the worst two categories of extreme and exceptional drought, while tiny pockets improved to severe drought. All of the state remains in severe to extreme to exceptional drought.

Drought Improves But 90% of State Still in Worst Categories

More bad news for Kansas farmers was that Hurricane Issac, which brought rain to much of the Midwest, moved inland to the east of Kansas, dumping badly needed rain in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio, but missing parched Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Kansas farmers continue to be concerned about the ability to plant the winter wheat crop into conditions with enough moisture to get the crop germinated, up and growing in time to provide cover for fragile soils before the windy months of winter hit.

Most of Kansas received little rain out of the latest storms that brought heavy rains to parts of the northeastern and a tiny pocket in south central Kansas.

"We're grateful for rain in any area that was lucky enough to get rain," was the way Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus put it at the annual meeting of the Sedgwick County Farm Bureau, held Aug. 28.

Some of Kansas's most fragile soils are in the western part of the state, where even normal rainfall is sparse and where drought has been the prevailing condition of the last 12 years, with extreme drought dominating the last two years.

In that region, even long-time no-till fields and native short grass prairie have seen damage from wind erosion over the summer. Fields that were planted first to failed row crops last year then to failed wheat this year have been especially vulnerable.

"We need to get wheat up and growing," says longtime Lane County farmer Vance Ehmke. "If we don't get enough moisture for that, we need to be very worried indeed."
TAGS: Wheat
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