• Last modified 207 days ago (Nov. 2, 2023)


Long-standing drought isn't going to resolve soon

Staff writer

Don’t look for drought conditions in the county to go away soon, according to James Cuellar, meteorologist at National Weather Service in Wichita.

Northern and eastern portions of the county are abnormally dry. Southern and western portions are in severe drought.

Agronomist Michael Dietz at Agri Trail’s Tampa location said things turned sour in the fall.

“We got hit pretty hard,” Dietz said. “This year, they were pretty comparable to last year. The soybeans suffered really hard this year.”

Beans didn’t fill out as much as they should have, and weights were low.

“They took it really hard on the drought,” he said.

Some farmers got as little as zero to two bushels per acre.

Planning a crop is a potshot in drought years.

“You always want to plan like you’re going to get that rain,” Dietz said.

This year’s corn crop started out looking good, but some farmers got as little as 60 bushels an acre.

“Sixty is not very good,” Dietz said.

Wheat crops were “pretty average” in 2022 but not great this year, he said. There wasn’t a bin-buster yield.

“The lack of rain coming in last year didn’t help us any,” Dietz said.

When there is not enough rain, subsoil is too dry for plants to fully thrive.

He’s advising farmers planning for next year’s crops that corn did the best with the drought.

“The year, corn looks like the best option,” Dietz said. “With beans, you depend on late rains.”

Agri Trails has corn seed that handles drought conditions well, he said.

Even though the seasonal outlook into February indicates a possibility of above-normal precipitation, Cuellar said it won’t pull the county out of drought.

“The thing about the current drought is that it’s been around for a while,” he said. “We had a really wet June in 2022, and then the faucet turned off. We’ve had very poor moisture since then.”

Even though the county got good rains in recent days, rivers didn’t rise at all, he said.

“We have slightly favored chances for above-normal precipitation through the winter months for much of the state,” he said. “Temperatures will more than likely be near normal.”

Above-normal precipitation won’t be enough, Cuellar said.

“It’s still not going to be anything that will end the drought,” he said. “It’s going to be months before we get to that point. It’s just going to take a while for the drought to go away because it’s been around so long.”

According to the weather service’s winter seasonal hazard outlook, long-term dryness typically requires several months of normal to above-normal rain and snow to resolve.

Besides poor crop outcomes, drought causes a potential for reduced water supply and poor water quality, continued poor pasture and rangeland conditions that result in a shortage of feed sources, and a risk of localized out-of-season fires.

Last modified Nov. 2, 2023