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Western Kansas fields need moisture

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP)--If drought conditions persist, wheat yields could be severely affected, agriculture officials say.

"It was a terrible winter, just terrible, and we need all the moisture out here we can get," said Alan Baker, Wichita County's Kansas State University Extension agent. "Hot, windy days suck the moisture right out of the ground, and each day like this is making it worse."

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius requested an agricultural disaster designation for Scott County from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of the lasting and severe weather conditions, including drought and high winds that have adversely affected corn, sorghum and wheat production in the county.

State climatologist Mary Knapp said because winter precipitation is typically low, drought conditions stay relatively under control during the months of December through February.

"But every day in March without rain, your drought conditions intensify more rapidly," she said.

Over the last two years, Scott County has seen about 2 inches less moisture over the course of the year than average annual precipitation over the last few decades, according to the Weather and Data Library at Kansas State. In March 2008, Scott County received a third of an inch of rain. The March average is one and a half inches.



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