Could extreme weather save farmers from extreme weather?
After a seriously dry run, some drought-stricken farmers have gotten a bit of a reprieve. Snow dumping this week on the country’s potential future dust bowl is great news for suffering, parched wheat crops.
Nearly a foot or more of snow fell across key growing areas in Oklahoma and Kansas in the last 24 hours, and more was coming.
“I feel a lot better this morning,” said Kansas wheat farmer Scott Van Allen, who has about 2,300 acres planted to winter wheat in south-central Kansas. “It snowed all night on us. I was getting very concerned with the lack of moisture we’ve had.”
Well, Scott, here are some scientists to rain on your parade (except without any actual rain, sorry). This extreme weather isn’t nearly extreme enough to make up for the other extreme weather.
“This is not going to put a big dent in the drought,” said [University of Nebraska Drought Mitigation Center climatologist Brian] Fuchs. “The moisture is welcomed, but is it a drought-buster? No it is not. We need several more storms like this to really start turning the tide.” …
Kansas is typically the top U.S. wheat producing state and Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Colorado are also top producers. But a nagging drought has plagued the region, leaving agricultural producers struggling. Without adequate soil moisture plants either die outright, or yield poorly, if at all.
The wheat crop will be emerging soon from winter dormancy and will require good soil moisture to grow.
A report issued Thursday by a consortium of state and federal climatologists said that as of Feb. 19 more than 82 percent of the High Plains region, which includes Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, was suffering from “severe” or worse drought.
Fully 100 percent of Kansas was engulfed in severe drought or worse, the Drought Monitor report said.
In conclusion, poor Scott says he and other Kansas farmers will “keep our fingers crossed.” Go ahead; science can’t take that away from you.
Susie Cagle writes and draws news for Grist. She also writes and draws tweets for
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