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Local farmer worried about drought impact on crop yields

Wheat farmer
Posted at 7:16 PM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 20:28:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas farmers are hoping for rain as summer approaches and a drought continues that could hurt crop yields.

“That’s everybody’s morning prayer, don’t let the rain stop," said Jay Armstrong, a local farmer

Wheat is one of Armstrong's crops and he says there's some anxiety among farmers about what's ahead.

“As long as we keep getting rains, we’ll be OK," Armstrong said. "But we've got a long ways to go and if you start getting 2 or 3 weeks of hot weather and no rain, there’s just no subsoil moisture under here to keep that crop alive and it’s going to hurt its yield."

Armstrong's farm is in Atchison County, Ks., an area classified as "abnormally dry," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Large portions of western and southern Kansas are in "extreme" and "exceptional" drought.

Farmers are familiar with drought and other weather extremes and take precautions to reduce risk, Jennifer Ifft from Kansas State University said.

"Whether it’s how they select their variety, different farming practices, diversifying the farm operation," Ifft said. "The second part is what we call the safety net. Most farms now have crop insurance and when there’s a large decrease in yield or when crops are completely destroyed, that’s going to make payments that are going to cover some of that loss.”

Consumers may notice higher prices for flour and bread from wheat damaged by drought, but that's not the only impact, Ifft said.

"Because of the extended drought, especially in the Plains region, hay and hay prices are really high. A lot of producers have cut back on their herds, so the supply of meat is really low, so that's one factor," Ifft said.

As drought conditions drag on, Armstrong said he empathizes with fellow farmers.

“You like to take your families on vacation," Armstrong said. "You like to be able to go out to eat and suddenly the things that you like to do in life for the people that you love, you just can’t do that anymore or won't be able to do as much.”