My farm is at the northern edge of Greenwood county, in south-east Kansas, on the eastern edge of the Flinthills. Our county is primarily warm season native prairie, with about 10% being arable as cattle is king. I am the sixth generation of my family to farm here; my great-great-great grandparents came over from Boughton, Nottinghamshire, settling here in 1878.
Arable cropping runs to about 770ha and we also have 180-220 beef cows on the grazing with hay produced by 150 acres of grassland. Kansas is known for being the wheat state. However, in the eastern third, maize and soya beans are the most important crops grown. This year we have 500 acres of soya beans – only the second time I can remember no wheat was grown on this farm. And I don’t intend to plant any this autumn either, due in part to crop insurance.
We are in our second year of drought. Rainfall is usually about 890mm annually, but we are running at about half of normal. I’m 44 years old and this is the driest I have ever seen it; 1980 would rank a close second, but that was just one dry year. At the time, grandpa said only 1936 was drier.
The 2012 maize and grain sorghum crops were a third to half of normal. We are are in the middle of soya bean harvest and yields are surprisingly good, running about two-thirds of a normal crop. This completely amazes me given the weeks of temperatures in the 100s they endured, with no rain. Quality seems very good, too.
Grain farmers have not been impacted as much by this drought because of crop insurance; livestock producers have been hit the hardest. At the moment water is becoming the primary concern. As a rule, once we get past September we have little run-off until March or later. We would love to share a little of our dry weather with all of you in the UK who are slogging through the mud.
Brian Hind farms 1,250ha of prairie land, of which 770ha is family owned plus the rest is rented. Of this, 330ha is arable cropping with maize, soya, grain sorghum, alfalfa plus a mix of rye, triticale and turnips for grazing by 200 beef cattle. Grassland is used to produce hay.