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Archive for Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Rain helps recharge soil moisture

September 3, 2003

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— Heavy rains across Kansas last week improved the state's depleted soil moisture levels, which had fallen to the lowest level in at least 15 years during the drought.

But much more is needed before things get back to normal.

In its weekly crop weather summary, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said Tuesday the state's topsoil moisture was now 21 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated as 11 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

The figures represent a marked increase from just a week ago -- when only 3 percent of the state had adequate subsoil and topsoil moisture levels.

Rain came too late for most row crops, except for late soybeans and sorghum in some areas, the statistics service said. Some Kansas producers have begun seeding their 2004 wheat crop.

Much more rain will be needed to significantly improve the planting conditions for the upcoming wheat crop, William Tierney, Kansas State University agricultural economist, said in a crop outlook analysis issued Tuesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association forecasts an easing of the drought through November in the Panhandle of Texas, nearly all of Oklahoma and the southwestern 40 percent of Kansas.

Kansas averages 4.9 inches of rain in September and October. Half of the nation's hard red winter wheat crop is planted by Sept. 28.

Unless the region receives a "significant recharge" of soil moisture -- perhaps from another Gulf hurricane that penetrates all the way to the Central Plains -- wheat prices could go up, Tierney said.

The statistics service reported that 13 percent of the Kansas corn crop has been harvested for grain.

It rated corn condition as 19 percent very poor, 28 percent poor, 33 percent fair, 17 percent good and 3 percent excellent.

Current conditions for other Kansas crops:

  • Soybean condition was rated as 18 percent very poor, 35 percent poor, 35 percent fair and 12 percent good. Some areas continue to bale drought-damaged soybeans for hay.
  • Sorghum was ranked as 22 percent very poor, 37 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 10 percent good and 1 percent excellent.
  • Sunflower condition was rated as 11 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 26 percent good and 4 percent excellent.

Meanwhile, Kansas cattle producers continue to supplementally feed their livestock because of the poor pasture conditions. The statistics service rated range conditions as 37 percent very poor, 37 percent poor, 23 percent fair and 3 percent good.

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