The Garden City Telegram
6/11/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Rain help: Much more moisture needed to fuel ag-related success.

Drought gripping the region won't ease up anytime soon.

While that's the grim reality, it's still necessary to recognize the good in recent rainfall throughout arid southwest Kansas.

Garden City, for example, already saw its precipitation total for June soar past the normal total of just more than an inch. As of Wednesday morning, the total for the month topped 2.5 inches.

Year-to-date totals, however, still hurt. Garden City remained below 4 inches, compared to the normal year-to-date total of about 8 inches.

It's a similar situation throughout southwest Kansas.

On the plus side, the rain did improve soil moisture across the Sunflower State. But southwest Kansas still was listed among parts hardest hit by dry conditions, with the highest percentages of very short topsoil moisture and very short subsoil moisture in the state, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Even with nice rainfall of late, the U.S. Drought Monitor still showed much of Kansas — the southwest part included — in extreme drought.

As for the impact on the state's crops, the one usually generating the most coffee-shop talk — winter wheat — rated 28 percent very poor, 35 percent poor, 26 percent fair, 10 percent good and 1 percent excellent.

With such figures in mind, it's easy to see how any desperately needed rain could lift the spirits of folks from the farm to the city, where retailers know positive developments for farmers help make cash registers sing.

When it comes to economic prosperity, local officials spend significant time on ways to encourage success stories. They have some control of the outcome thanks to incentives and other strategies used to create jobs and energize the economy.

Farmers, however, remain more at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances. While their hard work and expertise help create harvests needed to feed the world, farm operations too often fall prey to Mother Nature — and we all feel the pain.

So, in an agriculture-driven region where every bit of moisture matters, it was good to celebrate the recent rain. Let's hope more — much more — is on the way soon.