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Kansas farmer on dry conditions: 'Pray, pray for rain!'

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - Wichita has experienced one of the least snowiest winter seasons since the 1920s. The lack of moisture has created problems for Kansas farmers and snow removal workers. 

"It's just kind of desolate and depressing," said Josh Patterson.

Patterson is a sixth generation farmer near Valley Center. He said he can't remember a time when his fields and ponds looked as dry as they do now.

"On a average year this pond is running over and we don't have any problem with it and the grass is coming up and on a typical year we would be hauling cattle to the pasture this week," Patterson said.

However, Patterson's ponds are nearly bone dry. He said it's not feasible to move his cattle to the pasture because if he did the animals would not have a water source.

"Even some of the old time farmers I've talked to they don't ever recall a winter being this dry and not starting any year off with any pond water," he said.

The dry conditions are having a major impact on Patterson's wheat crop too.

"Right now, the wheat is starting to grow so it's pulling a lot of water and we are very depleted soil moisture anyway so if we don't get a rain here in the next week or so we are going to see a lot of blue wheat and that's not good," Patterson said. "Blue wheat means it's on death's doorstep."

According to the National Weather Service, this is Wichita's third least snowiest winter season. Only about 1" of sleet or snow has been measured at Eisenhower National. The least snowiest winter was in 1922-23 with about 0.7" of snow or sleet. The NWS said 15" falls during a normal season.

"That's the unfortunate reality of living on the Plains. We can get these wild swings like we have been getting," Patterson said.

Kansas farmers are not the only ones who are struggling with the recent weather.

"Oh, man I've been waiting on snow since November, but we didn't get any," said Larry Franklin.

Larry Franklin is the owner of Franklin Snow Removal. He said he hasn't used his snow plow in two winters.

"We got to salt a few parking lots with the salt, with the ice storms and stuff. Other than that, we kind of sat neutral, just sat and waited for the snow to come," Franklin said "So financial part is kind of low right now. We are trying to mow grass to make up for it."

However, Franklin said finding mowing jobs has been difficult too.

"We are kind of mowing the dead grass because we haven't gotten any rain for the grass to grow," he said.

At this point, both Franklin and Patterson said they'll take any type of moisture they can get.

"Pray, pray for rain!" Patterson said.

"Just make it rain! Tell the weather-forecaster guy to make it rain," Franklin said.


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