Purchase photos

Farming in a relative oasis





RUSSELL SPRINGS -- In something of an odd twist, farmer Tony Kuhlman is smiling.

Slightly, that is. He's not entirely happy.

"I think we live in a part of northwest Kansas, and I'm not going to brag, but it's as good as it gets," he said.

He made that observation Saturday as he prepared to climb back on a sprayer to finish up a field of corn his father, Larry, was just about finished planting.

The Kuhlmans recently received an inch of rain on land they farm, although only a sprinkle fell in a storm that moved through Friday night.

That much was evident judging from the dry, spider web-filled rain gauge hanging from a post at the entrance to the field.

The rain evidently was spotty, as fields to the north of where the Kuhlmans were planting had spots with standing water. To the west, cattle stood in puddles, and a gauge nearby showed a rainfall total of 0.75 of an inch.

Kuhlman, who lives in southern Thomas County, received 0.2 of an inch. Larry Kuhlman, who lives south of Oakley, picked up 0.3 of an inch.

"It sprinkled," Kuhlman said of rain that fell where corn was being planted.

The recent rains, he said, will help get the corn up and growing -- but it will need plenty of rain after that as there's little soil moisture in the field.

But, he's also looking forward to an average wheat crop.

"We're hoping for an average crop," Kuhlman said as his sons, Craig and Levi, played nearby, even pulling up a rusting sickle bar that nearly had been buried through the years.

Average, he said, likely would mean yields of approximately 30 bushels per acre -- right on target with the statewide average yield being forecast.

"And I'm not complaining about that," Kuhlman said of the prospects of harvesting an average crop. "Average would be a good thing this year."