Archive for Thursday, August 20, 2009

August one of wettest on record

Moisture a curse to some, but a blessing to others

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers in 2009 seized nearly $27 million in drugs from the state’s highways, according to information obtained through an open records request.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers in 2009 seized nearly $27 million in drugs from the state’s highways, according to information obtained through an open records request.

August 20, 2009


Mike Garrett, a local produce farmer, has felt the effects of too much rain, losing about 5,000 cantaloupes this year. “Cantaloupes have a thin skin on them and won’t take much water,” he said.

Mike Garrett, a local produce farmer, has felt the effects of too much rain, losing about 5,000 cantaloupes this year. “Cantaloupes have a thin skin on them and won’t take much water,” he said.

Above average rainfall this summer

It's been the 15th wettest summer in Lawrence history. Nearly five inches of rain have been recorded in the month of August, an inch more than average. The rain has been good for some crops but has made life difficult on local gardeners. Enlarge video

For all of you out there waiting for the tomatoes you’ve planted to turn from green to red, take heart in knowing it’s not your fault they haven’t ripened.

It’s the weather.

August — a time when most farmers and gardeners are looking toward the skies and pleading for rain — has turned out to be an unusually wet month.

“I think there is a lot of disappointment in the garden this year,” said Jennifer Smith, extension agent for horticulture with K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County. “I think with all the cool, wet weather, the plants are having a hard time getting deep roots down into the soil. And the few hot days that we have had, the plants aren’t prepared for it.”

The extension office has received the most questions about fledging tomato plants, but Smith said late summer crops such as watermelon and cantaloupe are also struggling.

Amateur green thumbs aren’t the only ones frustrated with all the rain. Tom Buller, market coordinator for the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, said the wet weather has been a problem for some of his vendors.

“Traditionally, the crops of summer like it hot and dry,” he said. “Cantaloupe and watermelon need moisture, but they don’t need this much.”

Mike Garrett, whose family has owned a fruit and vegetable stand north of Lawrence for four generations, said he has already lost about 5,000 cantaloupes because of the rain.

“Cantaloupes have a thin skin on them and won’t take much water,” he said.

Garrett also fears for the pumpkin crop that will be ready to harvest in a few weeks. For Garrett, field conditions are almost as bad as 1993, a year when flooding left much of North Lawrence under water.

According to Mary Knapp, state climatologist, this summer is the 15th wettest on record.

“It is wet, but it is not by any means the wettest we have seen,” Knapp said.

For the past 30 years, Lawrence has averaged 3.81 inches of rain for the entire month of August. Wednesday morning’s thunderstorms put this month’s total at just shy of 5 inches, according to data recorded at Lawrence Municipal Airport.

The increased moisture is primarily from a jet stream near Baja, Calif., that is sitting farther south than normal. It’s a weather pattern that is leaving parts of Texas in a drought and the Northwest hot and dry, Knapp said.

Along with the rain comes cooler weather. Neither July nor August has had a day that reached 100 degrees. Although there have been relatively hot days mixed with high humidity that resulted in conditions that felt like the temperature was more than 100 degrees.

The cooler weather means that crops will take longer to mature, and the rain brings a higher chance for fungus to spread. Still, Kansas hasn’t seen the arrival of the late blight that has taken a toll on tomatoes in the eastern part of the country, Smith said.

As for the region’s major cash crops, corn and soybeans, the rainy weather could translate into a bumper year.

“They are growing like gangbusters,” said Bill Wood, who is the agriculture agent for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County.

But it has been a tricky year for those baling hay. Brad Rice, who farms south of Lawrence, said while the rainy weather was a challenge, it also extended the growing season a little longer. He was able to bale up most of his hay during the breaks in the rain.

“We had windows,” he said. “It was just a matter of working a little harder in a shorter amount of time.”


blessed3x 8 years, 7 months ago

With the exception of a couple of weeks in June, this has been a very pleasant and cool summer. Nice departure from our typical summers.

RoeDapple 8 years, 7 months ago

I picked 52 ripe tomatoes from 4 plants 3 days ago. Looking out the window, I can see at least 20 ripe or near ripe tomatoes on the vines. Fresh tomatoes will be a thing of the past all too soon, but there are already 2 dozen quart bags of frozen in the freezer.

Jenny, stop by on your way home this evening, I'll give you a few!

Adrienne Sanders 8 years, 7 months ago

I've gotten plenty of great stuff from the farmer's market, including tomatoes and cantaloupe.

appleaday 8 years, 7 months ago

When the ice caps melt, the water has to go somewhere. Wherever it goes, it cools.

Ken Lassman 8 years, 7 months ago

Ever hear of El Nino, folks? It's when the equatorial Pacific absorbs ADDITIONAL heat, say 1-1.5 degrees celsius, resulting in a bunch of shifts, including supressing Atlantic hurricanes, and in this area it can go either way, tho it's not uncommon to have cooler, wetter summers. Check out the Climate Prediction Center for more details. Seems that we're currently in a building El Nino situation that may become even more pronounced in the coming months.

Not sure, but seems reasonable to assume that El Nino events might become more frequent with climate change, but if you check out the website, you'll find that for this part of the country, the prediction is that we'll have more extremes overall: more droughts AND more floods. And frankly, this part of the country gets off pretty easy compared to other parts. Nothing pretty about the big picture and if you think otherwise, then keep on smoking those cigarettes, 'cause aunt Betty still smokes and she's 92....

guesswho 8 years, 7 months ago

I love the armchair scientists. Global warming/climate change doesn't mean everything gets hot and dry. It means there will be changes from the 'norm' and there will likely be more extreme weather events.

Mike Wagner 8 years, 7 months ago

Call it whatever you want it's been happening for millions of years! Our planet goes through cycles, not a dam thing we can do to stop or change it.

Chris Golledge 8 years, 7 months ago

be3, et al, A) What makes you think our local weather is a good indication of global climate? B) What makes you think Al Gore invented climate change?

Anthropogenic climate change/global warming has been theorized for about 100 years now. The first IPCC report came out in 1990; I suspect it took them a few years to create it. Here's a primer:

You guys are failing to distinguish the message from the messenger.

You know, the fundamental physics of the theory are not that difficult to test. You shoot light through a chamber containing a gas, CO2, methane, H2O, whatever, and see how much of the light is scattered. You vary the frenquency and intensity of the light, and the concentration of the gas, and you get a pretty good idea of the primary effects. It's the feedbacks in the climate system that make predictions difficult.

BTW, you can see that farmers have a hard time when they don't get the weather they expected. They would have planted crops tolerant to cool and wet if they'd known. Climate change is all about change; changes in expected temperatures and moisture distribution. If those changes happen abruptly, farmers won't know whether to plant corn or wheat.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

Of course humans can change the climate, cities and acres and acres of concrete have a totally difference albedo than grass or trees, and they return nothing to the atmosphere.

Mike Wagner 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree that humans have not helped the situation but we can't stop the cycles of the earth. Guess we could tear out everything that humans have built, plant grass and live like cavemen again...

lounger 8 years, 7 months ago

It depends on where you are. Out in Wabaunsee county it is mostly bone dry!!!

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