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Archive for Wednesday, April 28, 1999

WET WEATHER WORRYING FARMERS

April 28, 1999

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Recent rains have pushed corn planting back and created a risk of disease in wheat crops, local agricultural officials said.

The recent and seemingly unending wet weather is putting a strain on area farmers, Lawrence agricultural officials said.

"We're not critical yet, but when you get past the middle of May it gets pretty tough" to plant a successful corn crop, said Fred Gantz, operations manager for the Farmers Co-op Assn. in Lawrence.

"You think every day this is going to quit and the sun is going to come out, and then they keep saying we have a chance" for rain, said Bill Wood, agricultural agent for the Douglas County extension office.

"It's definitely putting a delay on things," Wood said. "I'm sure farmers are getting very nervous about how late it's getting."

As of Tuesday evening, 1.67 inches of rain had fallen since Sunday on Lawrence, bringing the month's total to 7.29 inches, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Topeka and WeatherData, a private forecasting service in Wichita.

NWS forecaster Mike Akulow said this month has been the wettest April ever in Topeka, with 8.69 inches measured, breaking the old mark of 8.65 inches set in 1944.

Records for Lawrence were not immediately available, but the area has seen one of the wettest Aprils on record, he said.

Gantz said standing water could affect corn seed already planted, and that wet conditions could affect wheat crops.

"A lot of our members are worried about having to replant (corn) seeds they've already planted," he said.

"If it stays wet, we could have some leaf diseases" with wheat, he said.

Gantz said the later corn is planted, the lower the yield because of a risk of summer heat that could damage it.

"The later we go, the more risk we have of intercepting that high heat," he said.

Currently, he said, farmers aren't as worried about planting milo and soybeans, because those crops can be planted later in the year without many problems.

The forecast looks more favorable for farmers through the rest of this week, with dry conditions through Saturday, Akulow said.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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