According to state and local reports, there’s a good reason for local officials to take action this week to control burning, in the face on increasingly dry conditions.
If the area receives rain that is in the forecast for later this week, the issue could be moot, but we have missed rains in recent months, and the dry, dead vegetation and high winds are a recipe for disaster.
On Monday, Barton County Commissioners, under the recommendation of county fire chiefs, enacted a one-week burn ban.
Emergency Management Director Amy Miller said she was contacted late last week by Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano, who had been in contact with other county chiefs and they were in agreement that the ban needed to be in place, in case the rain doesn’t come through.
The ban is in place until next Monday.
Under it, open burning is illegal and any agriculture burning has to be approved by the local fire chief.
According to information from the Kansas Wheat Commission, this lack of moisture is causing stress on the emerging wheat crop and threatens next year’s harvest.
“With much of the wheat crop planted in western Kansas, farmers are now waiting and hoping for rain to help the crop get established. Most of the western third of the state is mired in an extended dry period, causing poor emergence and spotty stands of the fledgling wheat crop.
“‘I would rate the crop as poor to average,’ David Schemm, vice president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and a farmer near Sharon Springs said. ‘Some wheat was planted into moisture and it looks okay, but there is very little subsoil moisture to keep that crop going.’”
Getting a slow start is usually a bad sign for harvest.
“Kansas State University research shows that, the later the crop emerges in the fall or spring, the greater the yield reduction the following summer. Reductions in test weight and kernel size combine with increased environmental stress to be leading factors in yield reductions at harvest.”
“In its Oct. 12 Crop Progress Report, Kansas Agricultural Statistics says just 30 percent of the western third of Kansas has adequate subsoil moisture.
“Heading into winter, the crop could be dangerously dry.”