SW Kansas residents are no strangers to drought, but some say this spring was worst in memory


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ELKHART, Kansas — Southwest Kansas residents are used to not having much rainfall, but some longtime farmers say this year is one of the worst they can remember as even abundant June rainfall wasn't enough to bring the year's precipitation total close to normal.

In Morton County, which sits closer to three state capitals other than its own in Topeka, the average rainfall is just 17 inches. But even after above-normal precipitation in June, the area still has received only about 75 percent of what it normally would have by this time of year.

"This is tough country," Scott Shrauner, a 65-year-old Morton County farmer, told The Hutchinson News (http://bit.ly/1mNMlDV ). "It doesn't rain a lot."

According to Shrauner's data, Morton County hasn't received normal rainfall in at least seven years. Through May, the area had received just 30 percent of normal precipitation.

June's showers didn't come in time to save the dryland wheat crop, of which Shrauner and his son, Reid, didn't expect to cut much if any this year.

Across Kansas, government officials are projecting this year's wheat crop to be the worst since 1989, thanks largely to the drought, hail and freeze damage.

As of June 30, the Kansas Risk Management Agency reported Kansas wheat indemnities were at nearly $30 million on 243,004 acres.

Garden City's Kansas State Agricultural Research Center reported January through May was the driest such period on record, with just 2.07 inches of measured precipitation. At the Hays K-State research center, it was the fourth driest period, receiving only about 3 inches of moisture.

Kenny Mitchell, a Morton County farmer, said this spring was one of the driest periods he has ever experienced.

"It's drier than I have ever seen it, and I've been here 70-some years," he said, adding he wouldn't be harvesting much dryland wheat this year. .


Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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