Alarm Is Ringing; Help Needed Now

Kansas Viewpoint

Drought in western Kansas is not to be believed; these farmers, ranchers need help NOW

Published on: May 17, 2011
I just got home a couple of hours ago after spending two days on the road in the worst of dry, dusty, windblown western Kansas.

This is not just a dry spell. Or a drought. This is a disaster.

I am saying that as someone who has seen a lot of western Kansas dry weather. This is the worst I have ever seen in the western two tiers of counties.

Wade Tucker, who farms in Stanton County, says he's used to dry weather -- the average rainfall in the county is just 13.5 inches, about an inch above "desert" if you're classifying. He said he "notices" drought in years when it falls below 9 inches. But last year, it was below 5 and that gets attention.

The exceptional drought brought a frequent consequence, wildfire. And that scrubbed the land of the last, fragile protection from days like today when the wind was blowing at 30 mph and gusting to 50.

A couple of weeks ago, he lost a semi, several horse pens, a couple of outbuildings and a bunch of grassland to fire. With a couple of recent showers, he's seen some recovery in the grassland, especially never-worked native grass. But the recovery is fragile, certainly nothing that will immediately feed cattle.

Right now, ranchers in that area are desperate for pasture to rent to move cattle off dead pastures or for hay to buy to feed cattle in place.

They asked me to send a plea from this blog: If you have hay, if you have pasture, if you can help, please, please send help their way. The next couple of weeks literally determine whether or not they will try to hang on or liquidate their herds.

Contact me at pgriekspoor@kansasfarmer.com or 316-681-2100 and I will pass your info along.