Potentially ‘out of hand’ weather this fall could bring more bad news for farmers

The spring brought with it some harsh weather this year in Kansas, and the state might not get a reprieve from more unseasonable weather heading into fall, Paul Pastelok, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, said.

AccuWeather published its predictions for the fall weather season — which spans from Sept. 1 until late November—and it could mean more bad news for Kansas farmers.

The fall harvest has already been pushed back by late planting from an unusually damp spring.

Unfortunately, Pastelok said, September in Kansas could see above-average amounts of precipitation.

“Any kind of wet weather or cool weather would be bad in the harvest season,” Pastelok said.

An early frost in mid-October is also possible, with a chance of snow up in the northern plains as the fronts that bring in cooler air move into the state through the Nebraska state line.

“It’s a little wet and gets a little chilly here in the ... middle part of the season and that’s right in the harvest season that we are concerned about,” Pastelok said. “In September in Kansas, we could see some things get out of hand.”

Mark Nelson, director of commodities for the Kansas Farm Bureau, said the problems of an early frost are compounded when planting was as late as it was this year.

“It’s not just an early frost, it’s an early frost on early crops,” Nelson said.

Several of Kansas’ major crops are “well-behind” schedule. The United States Department of Agriculture reported on July 28 that corn silking is at 71 percent, behind the average 86 percent across the state. Soybeans setting pods are 12 percent while this time last year the amount was 45 percent. Sorghum headed is at 10 percent, also “behind” the 26 percent average.

The extent of how this forecast could impact Kansas farmers varies due to types of crops, temperatures and local ecosystems, Heather Lansdown, communications director for the Kansas Department of Agriculture, said in an emailed statement.

“Generally speaking an early frost will have an impact on wheat being sown in the fall. Soybeans and corn could experience an impact to their yields as well,” Lansdowne said.

A lot of it is still up in the air, Nelson said.

“We run the risk of losing crops. ... That always depends on how bad the frost event is,” Nelson said. “If a severe frost event hits early ... that would be terrible.”

Despite possibly cooler temperatures during the harvest season in September and October, above-average temperatures are predicted in November.

Pastelok said Kansas is certainly at no risk for drought, and the threats of flooding should miss the south-central region of the state.

According to the AccuWeather prediction map, there are concerns of late waves of severe weather in the southern plains and threats of flooding in southern states like Texas and Louisiana that could push into the state over the Oklahoma border.

“We think that it’s going to be around,” Pastelok said. “I do think there’s a period there in late October that Kansas ... could be involved in.”

Related stories from Wichita Eagle