U.S. Drought Center places most of Sumner County in “extreme” drought; 2014 wheat crop in peril

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Here we go again. All but a minute northeast corner of Sumner County has been placed in “extreme drought” in the latest United States Drought Monitor survey this week by the US. Drought Mitigation Center.The report was released today (see here). Extreme drought is considered a D3-D4 category and is one step away from being “exceptional drought” or D4 conditions — considered the worst drought conditions possible. It was 2012 when we were last placed in that category. You remember the year. It never rained. See full Kansas map here.Last week, Sumner County was mostly in the D3 category which is considered severe drought. But there was considerable change from the week before thanks to this week’s overabundance of wind.Sumner County farmers are exasperated. The wheat is just about to produce heads, the summer crops need to be planted. But that normal spring rain is not falling. And then there was that wind this week. The wind has never stopped blowing with gusts up to 60 mph on Monday and Tuesday. According to the National Weather Service in an article on Kansas.com, there has been 27 wind advisories issued so far in 2014 by the Wichita branch — the most since 2006.The forecasts aren’t getting any better. While we were bundling up this week from unusually cool temperatures for April while facing the wind, next week promises to get hot — like triple digit hot. The only change not being made in the weather is the moisture. According to the forecats, there doesn’t seem to be anything wet falling until late next week.Sumner County Extension Agent Randy Heim isn’t optimistic about the 2014 wheat crop.“There’s always a chance we might cut a crop this summer,” Heim said in what could be the most pessimistic optimism ever uttered. “It is worst in the southwest corner of the county. But it usually is because they traditionally don’t get the moisture the rest of us do.”Sumner County is the No. 1 wheat producer in the state with 370,000 acres in wheat planted in 2013. Last year 18,528,000 bushes of wheat was cut for a 47.8 bushel per acre yield average according to United State Department of Agriculture statistics. Sumner produced more wheat than every other county with McPherson in second at 12,693,000. There was more wheat cut in Sumner County in 2013 alone than the combined counties in northwest Kansas and east-central Kansas.So there is reason for significant worry. A bad wheat crop is a devastating blow to the economy.According to the latest USDA estimates winter wheat predictions continue to get more bleak. As of last weekend, the crop statewide was rated at 13 percent very poor, 24 percent poor, 42 fair, 20 good and 1 excellent. A lack of moisture throughout the past two months has led to declining conditions across much of the state.In south central Kansas, the state’s heaviest wheat growing region, 84 percent of top soil and 74 percent of the subsoil was rated short or very short of moisture.The USDA said 56 percent of the crop had jointed and 4 percent had headed, well behind the five-year average of 74 percent and 19 percent.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comment (1) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? 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