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Archive for Friday, August 16, 2002

Storms bring rain but damage crops

August 16, 2002

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— The dryland corn is a mess. Same for the sunflowers, and the forage sorghum.

But the dark clouds that dropped up to 9 inches of rain on parts of central Kansas earlier this week did come with the proverbial silver lining.

"We're set up for next year's wheat crop," said rural Sterling farmer Clark Woodworth. "We've got enough moisture stored so that with a light rain at planting we'll be in good shape. We got soaked up a long ways. We moved water down for the first time in three years."

Short-term, though, the prognosis is grim for most fall crops.

"We go from one extreme to the other," said Greg McCormack, Reno County extension agriculture agent. "Real dry, and now we've got hail damage out there in the same areas that received hail damage in June. It's just not a good mood in farm country today."

Damage estimates are difficult to ascertain, but the wind, hail and rain were bad news for county farmers, Woodworth said.

"We knocked over a lot of dryland corn," he said. "Sunflowers are flat. Forage sorghums are flat. The rain's a little bit late for the dryland corn that's left, but it will help the later planted maturities. Milo is tough enough and short enough to survive."

But sunflowers an alternative crop growing in popularity locally as wheat prices plummet aren't tough at all.

"They're so top-heavy they just tip over," Woodworth said. "There are fields out there where you won't recover 60 or 70 percent of the yields. The heavy head stays on the ground and the stalk ends up in the combine. There's just more downside with that kind of crop with the violent storms."

The rainfall will help some fall crops, McCormack said, but not many.

"Dryland corn has done all it was going to do burn up," he said. "The early milo is past helping. Later planted double crop milo, the rain should help, assuming it's still standing."

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