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Jeremy Gaston/Herald-Chronicle
Charles Hutchison surveys blank, small and dry corn stalks in his field south of Scranton. He anticipates a yield around 20 to 30 percent of an average year.

Jeremy Gaston | Editor

It’s been a hot and dry summer, and any rain in today’s forecast is little relief to the record-high temperatures and near record dry conditions the area has endured the past few months.
Nationwide, June was the 14th hottest and 10th driest month on record. Temperature readings in Topeka averaged out to their hottest ever recorded during the three-month period of April, May and June.

According to a drought report released by the NWS, the lack of rain has been just as unforgiving. Much of the area has received around 60 percent of its normal rainfall in the past three months, with most of that coming earlier in the spring. Pomona Lake reports receiving 49 percent of its usual yield between March 30 and June 30 at 8.6 inches –nine inches short of normal precipitation.

The extremely dry June bumped almost two-thirds of the state into “extreme” drought as of the last index released by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The area includes all of Osage and adjacent Douglas, Franklin and Lyon counties and the majority of Wabaunsee, Shawnee and Coffey counties.

The effects are visible in the fields filled with short, dry and blank crops. In Osage County, that means grazing and haying fields with less grass, soybeans that have yet to flower and pod, and corn at just a fraction of the anticipated crop production.

“None of them look very good,” said farmer Charles Hutchison, who farms about 300 acres divided between corn, bean and cattle production south of Scranton. “(The crops are) still hanging on, but they’re deteriorating every day.”

Hutchison’s corn crop is nearing maturity. The stalks are average in some areas, worse in others. Where it’s worse, the stalks produce small ears, are bare, or have completely fallen over.

“Rain is not going to help much now,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison’s beans have sprouted, but not flowered. If it doesn’t rain, they won’t produce. He anticipates his corn will produce 20 to 30 percent of its average yield.

“We’re lucky if we get that,” he said.

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