Farmers hope winter wheat can beat drought

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - Farmers have harvested more disappointment than crops this fall, with tiny yields from corn and soybeans.

The latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows more than 77 percent of Kansas in an "extreme" or "exceptional" drought. Farmers hope their winter wheat will survive the dry conditions.

Johnson County, Kan., farmer Tom Boehm struck out with soybeans and corn this summer, so now he has moved on to wheat.

"We're praying, let me put it that way," Boehm said.

The wheat has been in the ground since mid-October and Boehm said it is faring well so far, but he knows that can quickly change.

Boehm's fields are currently up to one foot behind on rainfall. He said a snowy winter would be ideal.

"Snow has a lot of nitrate in it, and it really makes wheat grow," Boehm explained.

All Kansas wheat fields could use moisture right now. Numbers from the state show a quarter of the Kansas crop is rated as "poor" or "very poor" though 29 percent rated "good."

Boehm hopes to see that number climb before the summer harvest.

"A lot of times it tides you over to get to fall harvest, especially if you're needing some extra money through the summer," he said.

If next summer is anything like the last one, Boehm will take all the help he can get.

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