Drought Area Grows As Wheat Harvest Begins

Almost 25% of Kansas is in worst drought category as hot, windy weather hits and first loads of wheat come in

Published on: Jun 13, 2013

The drought in Kansas is growing slowly but surely worse, with almost a quarter of the state in exceptional drought on today's U.S. Drought Monitor map, and almost 45% of the state in the worst two categories, up two percent from last week.

The numbers next week are almost certain to take a bigger jump as heat and high winds have taken a huge toll on moisture reserves in the last three days, with the forecast for highs in the 90s persisting through the weekend. Chances of rain are at 20 and 30% for the weekend.

The weather is also making great strides toward getting the 2013 Kansas wheat harvest started, almost a month later than last year's record-early harvest. The first loads of the 2013 harvest, as they traditionally do, arrived at OK Coop in Kiowa Wednesday afternoon.

The first loads of the 2013 Kansas wheat harvest, as they traditionally do, arrived at OK Coop in Kiowa Wednesday afternoon.
The first loads of the 2013 Kansas wheat harvest, as they traditionally do, arrived at OK Coop in Kiowa Wednesday afternoon.

An unusually cool and wet month of May contributed to both the lateness of ripening and improving conditions through the middle corridor of the state, where the crop has largely been spared the worst of both drought and freeze damage.

The delay in harvest and extremely hot, dry weather are both contributing to reduced changes that farmers will attempt a double-crop this season. Typically, many farmers plant soybeans or milo after wheat harvest, which typically ends the middle to last of June.

This year, however, with harvest occurring later in the month and lasting into July means less time for a second crop to mature. Add in the threat of worsening drought and the chances of fall harvest are further reduced.

Some farmers, especially in the drought-stressed and water-challenged southwestern part of the state, are opting this year to plant forage crops, even under irrigation, rather than attempting traditional crops.