From drought to deluge: Wet weather keeps farmers out of fields across Kansas

LA CYGNE, Kan. - One state faces two very different weather problems. As eastern Kansas is soaked with rain, farmers and ranchers in the western part of the state are stuck in a debilitating drought.

Outside of La Cygne, farmer Brad Stainbrook is trying to stay busy tinkering with heavy equipment inside his machine shed. The cool and rainy weather pattern has kept his fields to wet for spring planting.

Stainbrook usually starts planting his corn by April 1, but this year he hasn't put a single seed into the ground. Stainbrook said he has a few weeks left before the situation becomes serious to his farming operation, but right now he desperately needs to dry out.

"We don't feel quite right about complaining about having too much moisture right now on the heels of last year," Stainbrook said. "But we're getting close to a time where we're thinking about staring to complain a little bit."

In far western Kansas, rancher Beau Larson's cattle operation near Sharon Springs is mired in "exceptional" drought conditions. Feed supplies are running low as the state's cattle population is at its lowest point in 22 years.

"The hardest is being able to just hold on. It gets rather expensive trying to feed your way out of a drought," Larson said.

Across the state, the USDA reports just 5 percent of farmers have completed spring corn planting. The average for this time of year is 20 percent.

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