Drought slashes Kan. farm's pecan yield

MIAMI COUNTY, Kan. - You can call him the Tree Whisperer. 

Leland Prothe has been growing things his whole life, and one of his favorite things to do is nurture the pecan trees on his Miami County, Kan., farm.

But this has been a rough summer for Prothe's 2,200 pecan trees. In their struggle to survive the drought, many of them have prematurely shed their leaves and dropped their fruit. 

The nuts they are producing are smaller this year than in years past. Pecans usually ripen in the fall, and Prothe said this year's crop is going to be sparse.

Two years ago his farm produced 14,000 pounds of pecans. This year he says he'll be lucky to get 500 pounds. 

But Prothe and his wife Slina, who grow the nuts and sell them at places like farmers markets, have no plans to fold. Prothe said he will drive south to Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas to buy pecans from other growers so he can keep up with demand from his customers, while maintaining his retail prices.

"I don't want to raise," said Prothe, "(but) it depends on what I have to pay for them."

Prothe noted pecan farming is more a hobby than his main source of income, but it's also a way of life.  He explained droughts are just a part of farming, and Prothe's Pecans will survive the drought.

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