OFFERLE, Kan. (AP) — As much as drought-stricken southwest Kansas needed the rain, June’s unusually high amount of precipitation in the region came too late to help the wheat crop but just in time to delay harvesting of the plants that managed to survive.
Usually the harvest would be complete in the region, but many farmers like Ken Burghart in Offerle have been unable to get their combines into muddy fields.
Burghart, of Texas, was in Kansas to help his family harvest in between rains that just seemed to keep coming in June, the Hutchinson News reported.
“We love the rain,” Burghart said, “but we would like it to be timed a little different. We want to it to go away for a week.”
In Garden City, the period of January through May was the driest on record. But in June, the 10.5 inches of rain that fell more than tripled the 3 inches the city normally receives for the month.
Garden City Co-op, with about 20 elevator sites across southwest Kansas, has taken in only about 2 million bushels — half of this year’s crop — because of the rainfall and high humidity that allowed farmers to cut only four or five hours a day, said Ken Jameson, the co-op’s grain division vice president.
“We’ve had days the wheat will be dry, but the fields are so muddy — the guys don’t want to go in and tear up the fields,” he said.
The rain has lowered the wheat crop’s quality, Jameson said, and yields have been poor due to the lack of moisture in the spring. Yields ranged from 2.7 bushels per acre to 70 bushels on dryland acreage north of Dighton that received a few timely rains.
Jameson said he expects the cooperative to bring in about 40 percent of the normal harvest.
To the north at Scott City Co-op, general manager Gary Friesen said he expects to take in about 65 percent of a normal harvest because of drought and hail damage.
Despite some hassles caused by the June rains, the precipitation has been a nice change, he said.
“While it has created problems with wheat harvest, it has brought on good potential for fall crops,” Friesen said.
North of Garden City, farmer Rodger Funk, 86, said he has seen many dry years, but this one might be the worst for wheat he has ever experienced.
“Everyone would be having a good wheat harvest if we would have had one decent rain in April,” he said.
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