Snow fails to help dry spell
Despite recent snowfall, Kansas farmers are reporting abnormally dry conditions or, in the northwest corner of the county, moderate drought.
“The snows are not as wet when they get so cold — when you get close to single digits,” agronomist Michael Dietz said. “We get more moisture when it’s closer to freezing. The colder it gets, the more it freeze-dries.”
Snow in extreme cold weather won’t melt into the ground, agronomist Jeff Naysmith said. Instead, it melts into ditches and hedgerows that it blows to.
It’s a better scenario than a drought in a warm month, severely affecting only a few farmers with winter oat crops.
“If we were to choose a period to be dry, this would be as good as it gets,” Naysmith said. “Over the years, we’ve lost more things to being too wet than too dry.”
Freezing temperatures kill irrigation attempts, leaving little relief for crops planted in late October and November.
“We don’t have the ground water that certain areas do,” Dietz said. “There are a few guys who have pivots in this area, but it’s from creek formations. I’m sure some of this winter plant stuff will suffer. They don’t have any root systems.”
April showers usually break winter droughts to create a good spring planting season.
“If it stays bone dry all the way into May, that’s bad,” Naysmith said.
Last modified March 3, 2022