Obviously, we’re in a severe drought — one of the worst in history. And odds are it will continue.

Several weeks ago I read with interest that this was the driest October 7 to February 13 on record in Dodge City — with records going all the way back to 1874! What’s more is that trend has absolutely continued — so far this year our area has received only a trace of moisture. And that’s what you’d expect.

After I left K-State as a student back in the early ‘70s, I took a job as an editor with Progressive Farmer, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. PF was a large, regional farm magazine with circulation at that time mainly in the South. One of the highlights of working there were the editorial conferences in which editors from all the other regional offices got together. At one of those meetings, the meteorologist who wrote the monthly weather page was a featured speaker.

He was asked: how do you predict the weather for the coming month?

“It’s simple,” he said. “You just look at the weather for the last three days of the month and project that forward for the next 30 days. Trends in weather are way more likely to continue than they are to change. But ultimately every trend will change.”

Well, that’s comforting. The weather for not only the past three days has been dry, but the weather for the past three months has been dry, violently dry. And odds are this drought will continue.

One of the nice things about having been around the block a time or two is that I have seen this exact situation one other time — back in the mid ‘90s. During that drought, we had the driest October to April in recorded history. And believe you me, we paid the price.

From the fall of ’95 to the spring of ’96, we had little to no precipitation, and while we planted the wheat crop into good moisture and got good stands, for some reason the root system just never developed. To this day I still can’t explain why that happened.

But in the spring when the wheat made several trips in and out of dormancy, the plants simply ran out of root reserves on the third attempt. And then we had massive winter kill.

Even the old timers said they had never seen anything like this before. So with the wheat crop gone, farmers in Lane County and elsewhere planted grain sorghum on those same acres to hopefully salvage an income for the year. I planted milo till I was sick of it. And I also remember how hard it was to get seed that was in very strong demand by probably hundreds of other farmers who were doing the same time.

But, like the meteorologist said: “trends change”. At some point in the spring, it started raining. And then it rained more and more and more. And ironically, as dry as it was through the fall and well into the spring, even after over 40 years of farming,1996 is still the wettest year I’ve ever seen. We got 27 or 28 inches of rain that year. And, by the way, for most farmers it was the best milo crop they’d ever seen.

So what does all this mean? I guess it depends on if you want a happy ending or not.

If you want reality, believe the meteorologist. Trends in weather are way more likely to continue than they are to change. And that is not a pleasant picture.

But if you want a happy ending, believe the meteorologist. Trends will change. Maybe the rains will come soon enough to save the wheat crop. And if they don’t, we’ve got a heck of a milo crop in our future!