Weekend Rains Bring Harvest To Standstill

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The view from Norman Roth's pickup showed an area saturated with rain.

More than 6.7 inches fell at his farm from Saturday evening to noon Sunday, he said as he drove down the back roads of northwestern Reno County Sunday afternoon, pointing out where ponds had formed in newly planted crop fields containing corn, milo and soybeans.

Standing water covered some rural roadways. And wheat fields, which were nearly ripened enough for the combine, won't be cut until at least the end of the week.

He and his son, 12-year-old Colton, spent the morning moving 51 head of cattle through water from the rising Peace Creek after finding his herd stranded on a pasture knoll.

From the seat of his pickup, he gazed into the distance then leaned over to his son.

"Look Colton, look at that big thunderhead," Roth said of the possibility of more rain Sunday evening. A 90 percent chance for the evening, in fact, he added.

R oth was just a few days away from getting his combine into the field, he said, but added he'd be lucky to be harvesting late in the week with as much standing water as there is in his fields. Two weeks of hot, dry weather would be favorable, but as he knows, farmers can't order up the weather.

Moreover, he said, he isn't discouraged, saying, "We are close enough to western Kansas that we know it can get dry."

Across much of south-central and southwest Kansas, chances of rain continue through Tuesday. Forecasters also predict a chance of rain Friday.

It has put a damper on the start of the state's winter wheat harvest.

Cutting started in Barber County a week ago, but harvest was halted for a few days after scattered rains early in the week. Not much, if any, cutting occurred Sunday in the state, thanks to the widespread storms that left several inches of rain.

Far western Kansas received up to thirty-hundredths of and inch of rain, said Matt Gerar d, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dodge City.

One location north of Hanston reported 5.11 inches of rain, he said. Greensburg received 4.76 and Dodge City nearly 3 inches.

Meanwhile, south-central Kansas received amounts ranging from 1 to 6.75 inches in a 12-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Sunday, with the highest totals falling around the Stafford County/Reno County border.

Rains caused eight people to evacuate around Peabody, said Paul Howerton, a meteorologist with the Wichita office of the National Weather Service. He estimated between 1 and 2 inches could fall by this morning in the south-central area, with more rain south and east.

He said some portions of the state could battle water throughout the week as creeks begin to rise. Water levels at several area streams were in the 90th percentile for flooding Sunday evening, including Cow Creek in Rice County, the Rattlesnake in Stafford County and the North Fork of the Ninnescah.

The weekend's rainfall "is not common," Howerton said. "But it is not unheard of, either."

Steve Schweizer, who farms around Plevna and Sylvia, said his family's wheat was still turning. He had hoped for a little shower and cooler weather to allow him to get some of his harvesting equipment ready.

"I was not hoping for 6 inches, no," he said, adding it could be the first of next week before he gets his combine in the wheat field.

He said they had just finished planting milo and millet for feed on Saturday, but added areas in some fields might have to be replanted.

Dale Beck, who farms in northwestern Reno County, said he is still trying to get milo planted after battling a few breakdowns last week. Now he has to wait for the fields to dry.

He too will have crops drowned out, meaning replanting.

"This is going to make a mess of things," he said Sunday afternoon, noting that according to his rain gauge 6.48 inches fell at his farm from 7 p.m. Saturday to around noon Sunday. "We just haven't had anything like this, not in a long, long time."

Beck said his amount is extreme, noting many of his friends from church reported 3 to 3.5 inches of rain at their homes.

Still, even that much isn't good, he said, but added this year's wheat crop probably isn't going to be a bin buster. Many area wheat fields are thin and short.

Not that the outcome couldn't change once he gets his machine in the field, he said.

Farmers, however, can only do the best they can, he said.

"It's just the timing of it," he said of the rains coming before the harvest. "But that is what keeps you humble, I guess. We were feeling good that we hadn't gotten a toad floater when everyone else was getting one."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.



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