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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Rain mixed blessing for Mac farmers

  • In July 2012, McPherson County received slightly less than eight tenths of an inch of rainfall.
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  • In July 2012, McPherson County received slightly less than eight tenths of an inch of rainfall.
    Looking a year ahead reveals a very different picture. The county received 9.32 inches of rain in July 2013. About 5.9 inches of that fell between July 26 and 29. The normal rainfall for the county in July is 3.41 inches.
    The county has received 33.32 inches of precipitation to date as of Sept. 1 this year. The normal precipitation year to date for McPherson County is 21.77 inches.
    2013 marked the end of the scorching drought McPherson County had suffered for two years.
    The sudden break in the drought was caused by a meteorological event called a north ridge flow.
    According to the National Weather Service, the drought years resulted from an upper level ridge of high atmospheric pressure hanging over the Great Plains.
    This upper level ridge formed a sort of atmospheric wall, which resulted in rain coming from the west being pushed into the north.
    Eventually the upper level ridge gave way to the northwest flow, resulting in the rain and cooler temperatures experienced in July and August.
    While those seemingly endless rains caused flooding and damage in a number of communities, it provided crucial help for farmers.
    For some, however, it was be a mixed blessing.
    McPherson area farmer Jeff Smith said he lost 10 percent of an alfalfa field to excessive water.
    “The standing water steals the nutrients and leaves the field patchy,” Smith said. “Other than that, I’m not going to complain about the rain. We’re all risk takers, and that’s the risk you take.”
    Justin Schrag, agency manager of crop insurance agency Terra Financial and a farmer operating in McPherson and Harvey counties, said he has seen some claims come in from area farmers due to damage from the rains and excess water.
    “With something like this,” Schrag said, “some people could have bumper crops, and some could be flooded out. Ground along Turkey Creek, for example, would be flooded out 100 percent. Flat ground and lower ground would also be badly hurt.”
    Despite some early claims, though, Schrag said it’s too early to tell how bad the damage may be.
    “A lot of people feel the sitting water has damaged their best ground,” he said.
    Contact Jeremy Webster at jwebster@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter @WebsterSentinel

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