WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – This will be the second year in a row that some wheat farmers in Kansas will not have a crop.
“You look out there, and it’s just a fog of dust across there,” said Brian Mitchell with Mitfarms. “It’s awful.”
Mitfarms is in western Kansas and is not alone in seeing very dry conditions impacting the wheat crop.
KSN Agriculture analyst John Jenkinson says the topsoil across the state is not good this year.
“This is a tough time. Many farmers are trying to figure out what they are going to do from the year before being so dry. Here we are at the beginning of spring. We need spring rains. So they’re just not materializing at this point,” said Jenkinson. “Without a rain, there’s not much to do. If you have failed wheat acres, there’s no way you can plant a fall crop, whether it’s sorghum or corn. The irrigated farmers have been irrigating since probably back in January, and so they have to worry about their pumping allotment, their costs of pumping that water. This has become a real major issue for Kansas farmers.”
Jenkinson says topsoil has been better across Kansas.
“In fact, the last USDA report on the condition ratings showed that Kansas has the worst topsoil ratings in the entire United States,” said Jenkinson. “73% is short to very short for topsoil.”
Some farmers know there will be a wheat harvest in spots where they’ve seen decent rains across the past few months. That is not the case in far western Kansas.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any dryland wheat out there at all. And the irrigated, depending on how much water you’re able to put on it, it’s really looking pretty tough, too,” said Mitchell. “And my dad’s 84, and he talks about it being even drier than in the 50s. And it’s just such a long dry spell.”
Jenkinson says some cattle operators are culling back their herds in anticipation of continued dry weather leading to feed shortages.
“Because unavailability of feed, “said Jenkinson. “What feed you can find is just so high. And there’s just no grass to be had.”