Drought causing dire situation for Kansas farmers

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RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KAKE) -

As the dry conditions continue to plague the state of Kansas, farmers have the most to lose.

A recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that the majority of winter wheat is in bad shape.

“Ultimately it will reduce the yield at the end," said Reno County farmer Derek Zongker. “Substantial rainfall? Its been since early October.”

Zongker manages a large farm in the western part of the Reno County; he says that the last rainfall only dropped a nearly insignificant amount of rain.

The lack of moisture not only causes the plant to ‘stress,' but also could all affect the plant's ability to handle cold snaps.

“The roots are in the top couple of inches of the soil…with these dry conditions on top, its left it more exposed to the temperature variation,” Zongker said.

The lack of snowpack or moisture allows the cold temperatures to seep deeper into the soil and damage the wheat plant.

“That can cause winter kill issues, damage the roots.”

Much of the state is in a drought according to scientists at the National Drought Mitigation Center, with southern Kansas experiencing the driest conditions.

The USDA reports that 13 percent of the winter wheat is very poor, 36 percent is poor, 39 percent is fair, 11 percent is good and 1 percent is excellent.

“I’m praying, every day,” Zongker said. Without rainfall soon, his crops and many others in the state could start to fail.

“It's just a guess, really, how much damage could be out here? But the potential is to have significant damage going forward if we don't some moisture to help this stressed wheat recover."

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