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Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 1994

APRIL SHOWERS NEEDED, EXTENSION AGENTS SAY

March 30, 1994

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Thirsty lawns and shrubs are going to require some watering, say Douglas County Extension agents.

On the up side, it's been easy to get the the fields cultivated, the garden ready and the landscaping spruced up.

But on the down side, the ground is slowly losing its moisture -- which could lead to some problems if April doesn't bring some showers, say two Douglas County Extension agents.

Since Jan. 1, Lawrence has measured 2.469 inches of rain, down about 2.39 inches from the average of 4.86 inches for this time of year.

Because of the heavy rains from last summer, the subsoil in northeast Kansas is still in fairly good shape, says Dennis Bejot, the Douglas County Extension director.

However, "if we don't get a rain in the next four to five days, people ought to be watering all their plant materials," Bejot said.

According to the National Weather Service's Drought Severity Index, northeast Kansas is still fairly moist, showing a reading of 2.9 on March 19. Zero is the average reading and 4.0 is an extremely moist reading.

"There's still plenty of subsoil moisture, so the trees aren't having any problems," Bejot said.

But shrubs -- particularly those planted close to building foundations -- need to be watered, he said.

"I'm sure that that soil is pretty well dried out," he said. "Most of those plants are shallow-rooted plants. We recommend those be watered."

Shrubs, as well as lawns, need to have about an inch of water on them each week, he said. He said the water would sink down 10 to 12 inches.

"Then you need a rainfall of at least a half to three-quarters of an inch," he said. "That's going to soak down six to eight inches, if it's a fairly gentle rain."

Meanwhile, the relatively dry conditions have helped farmers get their fields ready for spring planting, said Garry Keeler, Extension agricultural agent. But the soil is starting to dry out, Keeler said.

"We are dry right on top, but there is still moisture underneath," he said. "The real nice weather has dried out the top three inches."

Keeler said the Lawrence area is better off than the Wichita area.

"I was down there a week ago, and they've had less than an inch of total moisture since October, which means it's real dry," he said.

Keeler said that last year at this time farmers were waiting for the soil to dry so they could cultivate fields to plant corn sorghum and soybeans.

"Last week we had a good week to get into the fields," he said.

But if dry conditions continue, the wheat crop could be affected, he said.

"The wheat crop could use a good rain," he said. "It's out of dormancy and it's starting to grow. It will require more moisture."

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