Despite storms that have dumped about 12 inches of rain on the Lawrence area in the last 12 days, farmers refuse to give up on this year's wheat crop. They're holding on to hope that the rain will cease and the sun will dry up both standing water and the wheat kernels.
Garry Keeler, agriculture agent with the Douglas County Extension Service, said it's too early to estimate the damage caused by recent storms.
"Even with the hail, it takes several days to see how that plant's going to react," he said.
The biggest concern for farmers hoping to salvage wheat is that the head on the wheat will start sprouting. Keeler said the high humidity and frequent rains keep the head of the plant wet, which triggers germination.
Melvin Lang, operator of the Farmers Co-op Assn. grain elevator at 325 Locust, said wheat that sprouts likely won't be good for milling and would be used for livestock feed. He hasn't determined yet how much he'd pay for it or how much of it he'd be willing to take.
"Let's just hope it doesn't sprout," he said.
Jerry Neis, who farms south of Eudora, said the July 2 storm brought high winds that damaged the corn crop, and wheat has suffered mainly from the relentless downpours. He was able to start harvesting the wheat prior to the onslaught of wind and rain, and maintains hope that the water will dry up in time for him to cut the rest.
"I was combining before the storm hit," he said. "I got about 50 acres in, just a fraction of what I should have by now."
Neis still has soybeans to plant, but muddy fields have blocked all efforts. He said he likes to have the beans planted by July 15, but he might hold out a little longer this year.
"We'll cut ruts if we try to get out there now," he said.
In North Lawrence, Don Palmateer managed to get his soybeans in the ground, but about 20 acres currently are under water, he said.
"We've got a lot of water standing in a lot of places," he said, adding he hasn't been able to cut any wheat so far. "We think every day things are going to be different, but it's the same thing."
Palmateer said his farm was spared by hail that fell nearby during Friday's storm and by two tornadoes spotted in North Lawrence late Friday and early Saturday. High water has forced road closures throughout Grant Township, though.
He said it's hard to predict the full impact of the storms on area farmers without knowing how much longer the wet weather will continue.
Rural Baldwin farmers apparently fared better than those in other parts of Douglas County.
Don Churchbaugh said his farm has received its share of rain, but vicious winds and hail stayed farther north. He managed to cut his wheat, and said he was surprised at the quality.
"Things are pretty good out here considering how the weather's been," he said.