A Douglas County extension agent today said area farmers are desperate for a reprieve from rain that has transformed green fields into black, muddy lakes.
"It's pretty hard on crops to have this much water on them," said Dennis Bejot, director of the county extension service.
A severe storm swept through the Lawrence area early this morning, damaging crops and depositing unwanted moisture in saturated fields.
"This had to be a tornado," said Mike Legleiter, an employee of Pine Family Farms, north of Lawrence and near Lawrence Municipal Airport.
Pine Family Farms has 4,000 acres of crops, including corn, soybeans, potatoes, wheat, milo and herbs.
Legleiter said the storm's rain, hail and wind damaged the farm's corn crop. The yield this year will be negatively affected, he said.
"It basically striped leaves off the plants," he said. "You have the main stalk and just little pieces of leaves left. Some corn was twisted and knocked over by wind."
The storm also destroyed an empty 40,000-bushel storage bin at the farm, he said. Anchors for another bin were pulled up and part of a concrete-block garage was knocked down.
Bejot said area farmland has remained so wet in recent weeks that some farmers haven't had an opportunity to plant.
Fields around Lawrence have received 11.74 inches of rain in July, including 5 inches that fell early this morning.
"There is way too much water out there," said Mary Ross, who farms 1,500 acres with her husband, Pat, northeast of Lawrence.
Ross said corn and soybeans on their farm sustained major hail damage overnight.
"We were out at 2 a.m.," said Mrs. Ross, who operates Bismarck Gardens, a vegetable market. "It looks like we'll still have sweet corn -- as soon as it dries out."
Jim Elder, who farms near Linwood, said the overnight storm didn't create as much havoc in that area as the storm that hit the Lawrence area July 2.
On that day, 3 inches of rain fell in a 30-minute span and winds reached 55 mph. As much rain fell Friday night and this morning, he said, but it didn't come all at once.
"We didn't get any real hard wind through here," he said. "The beans held up fairly well. It's too wet to get the wheat right now."
Elder, chief of the Sherman Township Fire Department, said he worked from midnight to 4 a.m. removing tree limbs from Kansas Highway 32.
He said farmers need a break in the weather to get some work done in the fields.
"This rain just stays right with us," he said.