Archive for Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Rainfall too late for area farmers

September 18, 2002

This summer's weather conditions haven't been kind to Leavenworth and Wyandotte county farmers.

The weather has been so dry it reminds a local agricultural and natural resource agent of one of the worst droughts in Kansas history.

"It's been very near what it was like in the 1930s during the Dust Bowl," said Sy Nyhart of the Kansas State University Research and Extension office in Leavenworth County. "That's where you saw several years of nothing being raised."

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of the Midwest including Kansas is experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions.

Weekend rainfall helped "it means the dust has kind of been settled," but will do little for this year's crop output, Nyhart said

"In some cases it may stimulate some soybeans in some fields," he said. "But it was too dry and too hot for them to manufacture."

The weekend rainfall also came too late for corn production, Nyhart said.

"The majority of the corn has already been harvested," he said. "Corn was extremely variable this year."

The crop season began with high hopes. Although parts of western Kansas was suffering from dry conditions, the Kansas City metropolitan area received its fair share of spring rains.

"But in June, it just quit raining," Nyhart said. "(Crops) were just sitting there waiting.

"We were as dry as western Kansas."

As of Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 17, water levels at area rivers and streams were still below normal levels for this time of year, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The depth of the Kansas River, gauged from a U.S. Geological Survey measuring station in De Soto, currently stands at about 4.4 feet. That's low enough that vegetation is beginning to grow on sandbars that normally are well below the water level.

Things aren't much different in Stranger Creek, near Tonganoxie, where the water level Tuesday was at about 1.9 feet, according to the USGS.

The Army Corps of Engineers uses those readings, along with readings from more than 200 other measuring stations throughout the state of Kansas, to help determine how much water should be released from reservoirs downstream to avoid potential flood problems problems they might not have to worry about over the next few weeks.

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