Kansas drought will mean lower wheat yields

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CLEARWATER, Kan. Rain chances are welcome news to Kansas farmers - most of the state is experiencing some kind of drought, and farmers say it's already hurt this year's wheat crop.

Wichita has seen less than half the normal amount of precipitation for this time of the year - about 2 and 1/4 inches.

Farmer Max Tjaden from Clearwater says he thinks the wheat harvest will be at least 30 percent lower this year.

You can tell the wheat is suffering by just looking at the fields - drought-stressed wheat has a blue tinge, and the ground is cracked.

Because of the lack of moisture, the wheat is popping out about two weeks earlier than normal.

"Basically, it means it's not going to be very good compared to when it's supposed to be harvested. The wheat is just trying to save itself, saying 'we don't have any moisture so we better get to making grain as quick as we can,'" Tjaden said.

The lower yield will also mean a financial hit for wheat farmers.

"It will be, yeah. Because the price of wheat is terrible anyway, and then you have a crummy crop and a crummy price. It's just not good," he said.

He says the drought hasn't impacted other crops yet - corn is just getting planted and milo and soy are weeks away. But Tjaden says if this drought holds out for another month, that's when farmers will really start getting worried.

The US drought monitor says one-third of Kansas, is under "Moderate Drought" intensity, with most of the rest of the stat considered "Abnormally Dry."