While the childhood chant extols rain to "go away; come again another day," Harvey County and the rest of Kansas are welcoming any precipitation as the majority of the state (72 of 105 counties) remains in a drought emergency.
Harvey County is one such area in emergency status, according to the Kansas Water Office. Though the county's status has improved based on the U.S. Drought Monitor, going from extreme to severe (and moderate in a small western portion) in a month's time, Harvey County extension agent Ryan Flaming said the recent rains that have helped improve that status have had a minimal effect overall.
In the agricultural sector, while crops like soybeans and milo have gotten a boost from the little precipitation over the past few weeks, Flaming noted corn has taken a big hit over the duration of the drought — which extends back to the start of the calendar year — as it was shorted in the late spring/early summer when it needs moisture most.
One of the biggest impacts Flaming pointed out, though, is what the lack of precipitation has done for farmers maintaining livestock.
"Ponds are really low because he haven't had the type of rain that really fills ponds up, so guys have had to pull cattle out of pasture or already been hauling water all summer to keep the livestock with water in front of them — which is extremely important for all times of the year, but especially in the summer," Flaming said.
Additionally, low pond water levels increase the chance of blue-green algae forming while the drought has also affected the the hay crops — another issue for farmers with livestock.
"It's kind of made a hay shortage, so farmers with livestock are having to look for places to buy hay from for feeding their cattle this winter," Flaming said. "That's a pretty serious effect this drought has caused."
During a drought, irrigation (i.e. how many gallons of water can be used) is restricted for farmers, though counties in emergency stage are eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes. They also become eligible for water in some Federal reservoirs.
Those needing to utilize additional water sources must contact the Kansas Water Office (KWO) for a water supply request prior to any withdrawals from lakes. They will in turn be referred to the appropriate office to obtain the necessary permit to withdraw the water.
However, in Harvey County there are no true reserve reservoirs to pull from. Flaming noted irrigation wells can come in handy during a drought, but even those are hard to come by in the area.
"Especially in eastern Harvey County, the water level's so low, so they have a hard time even with farm wells," Flaming said. "They'll go dry during drought. They don't really have any good ways to use bailout water."
For more detailed information about current drought conditions, see the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report on the KWO website at www.kwo.ks.gov.