The latest Drought Monitor Update (February 17) indicates almost the entire state is at least abnormally dry. Most of Barton County falls in this category except for the extreme southern section. South into Stafford and west into Pawnee Counties the shortage increases to moderate drought. As you move south towards the border and to Southwest and West Central Kansas the severity increases to severe with a small area rated as extreme drought. This is in spite of slightly above average precipitation experienced in the Barton area over the last several weeks.
On the plus side, wheat is just greening up and the abnormally cold temperatures have kept wheat from trying to really take off. On the negative side, the moisture we received was offset by periodic above normal temperatures over the last several weeks. Most fallow ground has some moisture and wheat ground while dry is in fair shape concerning soil moisture. However, as meteorological spring is just a week from now, precipitation is needed soon for wheat and for spring planting. Moisture is needed not just for the crops but to move the fertilizer and herbicides being applied to wheat to where they are needed. So what is the prediction from Climate Prediction Service?
The prediction for the next ninety days is for all but South Central, Southwest, and West Central Kansas is that the state will receive enough moisture to stay out of a drought rating. This includes most of the area north of the Arkansas River. South of the river, under moderate drought, the drought conditions are predicted to likely to warrant elimination of the drought classification. This includes most of the area south of Barton until you approach the Oklahoma border. The rest of the western section of the state currently under extreme drought is predicted to improve to a moderate drought classification.
This is combined with an equal chance of above or below normal temperatures for March. The outlook for ninety days out is similar. Remember these are simply the best “guesses” based upon their models.
As producers prepare for spring planting and those still considering fertilizer for their wheat, they must decide what the weather will be. If temperatures and precipitation are near normal, they are probably in okay shape. If temperatures are above normal, precipitation is usually lower. Maybe that’s why farmers don’t go to casinos often. Just trying to decide what the weather will do is enough gambling for most.