Although cooler temperatures over the last couple days have provided a reprieve for Lawrence area crops and livestock, the 0.36 of an inch of rain that fell is simply too little, too late.
Garry Keeler, agriculture agent with the Douglas County Extension Service, said the area's corn crop could lose as much as half its yield because of July's sweltering, dry weather.
"What the rain will do now is help the soybeans and water the pastures again," he said. "The rain will not bring back what's already lost."
Louise Wintermantel, whose family farms in rural Baldwin, said they received less than a third of an inch of rain, and their corn crop has suffered in the dry weather.
"Our corn is past being helped," she said. "I think (the yield) will be about half of what it would've been if it had rained 2 inches two weeks ago. We have a lot of stalks that didn't get ears and some ears that never filled out."
Milo, which was planted later in the season, is holding up better, but still is in need of moisture, Wintermantel said. "The milo is already stunted right now," she said. "Rain would help immensely."
PAT ROSS, who farms northeast of Lawrence in the Kansas River bottom, said the lack of rain forces him to irrigate heavily in many of the fields. In fact, Ross said, he uses about 3 million gallons of water a day to irrigate his crops.
Much of his corn has been lost to dry weather, but Ross says his 900 acres of soybeans haven't suffered as extensively. Most are in the blooming stage, a period that lasts longer for the beans than for corn or milo. If the blooms fall off a plant because of severe heat, it can produce new blooms, he said.
Some soybean crops have set their pods already, however, and they require moisture to develop the beans. "If we get some good rains in August, we'll probably have pretty good soybeans," Ross said.
According to Kansas Agricultural Statistics, the lack of moisture is becoming a serious problem across the state.
``HOT, DRY weather over the past several weeks has depleted soil moisture and is stressing crops in most areas of the state,'' KAS said in its monthly crop-weather report. ``Soil moisture continued to decline across the state the past week.''
It listed topsoil moisture as 95 percent short to very short and just 5 percent adequate. Subsoil moisture was rated 84 percent short to very short and 16 percent adequate.
The report would not have measured the impact of scattered rains received so far this week.
KAS also said 90 percent of the state's corn crop now is in the silking stage, compared with 65 percent at this time in an average year, and that 30 percent of the crop has reached the dough stage, which is double the average.
``HOT, DRY weather has continued to stress the crop and is causing a decline in its condition,'' KAS said of the corn, now rated 58 percent good to excellent, 35 percent fair and 7 percent poor. A week ago, 69 percent was rated good to excellent.
Grain sorghum also is showing severe stress from the heat and moisture, KAS said. Only 43 percent of that crop is now rated good to excellent, with 39 percent fair and 18 percent poor. Last week, 51 percent was rated good to excellent. Fifteen percent of the sorghum acreage is now headed, KAS said.
Soybeans are progressing ahead of schedule, the service said, with 55 percent of the crop blooming, compared with 40 percent in an average year, and 20 percent of the crop setting pods. Only 43 percent of the beans are rated in good to excellent condition, with 49 percent fair and 8 percent poor.
With deteriorating pasture conditions, KAS said, forage now is in short supply in the southwest, southeast and central sections of the state. Stock water remains adequate, it also said, except in the central one-third of the state where it is short.