Archive for Friday, February 23, 1990

AG OFFICIALS APPRECIATIVE OF RECENT RAIN

February 23, 1990

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Local agriculture officials are hopeful that recent rains will restore some of the area's subsoil moisture content that has been lost to two years of drought.

However, they also say they would rather be in a position that does not require rain nearly every other day to make up for the area's rain shortfall.

The area was left 13 inches short of normal rainfall amounts in 1988 and came up more than four inches shy of normal readings in 1989, according to the KU Weather Service. Normal rains stopped falling in August 1987.

BUT JANUARY and February rains have given agricultural officials new hope. Rainfall for the first two months of 1990 is slightly ahead of normal, according to weather observers.

Jack Lindquist, Douglas County agriculture extension agent, said that when the Lawrence area was missing out on moisture that hit western Kansas, the county needed above-normal rainfall amounts to snap the drought's effects.

This week, his wish was granted.

"Each time the rain is more than predicted, it's nice," Lindquist said.

Drought conditions have left the area's subsoil moisture levels dangerously low, Lindquist said, adding that above normal rainfall is needed each month in order to catch up with the deficit.

Different subsoil moisture levels are needed for different types of soils and crops with varying root lengths, he said. Douglas County levels range from one foot to six feet, he said.

He said the levels had to increase as a backup system against future drought conditions. Plants can survive on subsoil moisture in the absence of actual rain.

ALTHOUGH Lindquist said he was glad to see the rain, he also said he wished a simple rain didn't excite him so.

"I would prefer less frequent rains and more subsoil," he said. "Frequent, light rains have no guarantee that it won't turn off dry for weeks at a time."

Brian Morray, director of the local Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service, said he also was glad to receive the rain.

"I think it's wonderful," he said. "It will help make up for the shortage we've had in the past couple years. It's been a steady rain, which will help it get in the subsoil, which will help all crops. It isn't much fun for people feeding cattle or doing chores, but for the crops, it's OK.

"I'm happy to have it at this time of year. Nobody's doing much farming right now, so we'll take it when we can get it."

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