Snow Storms Raise Wheat Optimism

Moisture won't make wheat crop, but it sure makes prospects look brighter

Published on: Mar 8, 2013

Kansas isn't done with drought just yet, but a whole lot of wheat farmers and cattlemen are feeling a whole bunch better about the coming spring and summer after back-to-back snow storms dumped up to 22 inches of snow on a wide swath of the hardest hit part of the state.

"Let's just say I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about a wheat crop," said Mick Rausch, who farms near Garden Plain in Sedgwick County which got a whopping 10 to 15 inches of snow in the first storm that hit on Feb. 21 and 22.

Rausch also got a taste of what his new job – grader operator for the township – will entail as the snow piled up.

He said his official rain gauge of the snow event show 1.13 inches of precipitation in the first snowfall , enough to make spring wheat green-up look a lot better.

Aaron Harries with Kansas Wheat said that there will be parts of the state that got good snow moisture and will see wheat emergence next spring.
Aaron Harries with Kansas Wheat said that there will be parts of the state that got good snow moisture and will see wheat emergence next spring.

Looking up

"I'm feeling pretty optimistic that we will get an average to above average harvest around here if nothing big goes wrong from here on out," he said. "We may see some winter kill and there are a lot of areas that are still iffy where they dusted in last fall and didn't get anything up. But we had a pretty good looking crop last fall."

Aaron Harries with Kansas Wheat said that there will be parts of the state that got good snow moisture and will see wheat emergence next spring.

"That cuts yield potential," he said. "It's more like a spring wheat crop than a winter wheat crop if you get spring emergence. My best guess is max yields around 30 bushels where the state average is more like 40 to 42 bushels."

He said he is also still worried about the need for spring rains to keep the crop going until grain is made.

"When you melt this snow down, it's a wonderful help, but it won't make a wheat crop considering our soil profile deficit," he said. "We're still going to need timely rains. But this snow buys us time. It definitely gives us a better chance."