(Wichita, KS)—Kansas farmlands were scorched last summer by extreme heat, and no moisture. There were massive crop losses and ranchers had to sell off herds due to rising costs of feed and water.
This spring, the rains have returned. But it may be too late to help your next grocery bill.
"You come on out in the wheat and there is good moisture," said Sumner County Farmer Scott Van Allen.
Van Allen likes what he sees this season. Timely rains have kept his 2,500 acres of wheat healthy so far, much different than last spring.
"Both crops the last few years were planted into just very dry, powder dry dirt," Van Allen said.
He knows Sumner County, the state's largest wheat producer, has fared better than other parts of Kansas.
"I have a friend who farms in Syracuse, he planted 4,000 acres of wheat and he might harvest 300 of it," Van Allen said.
But where wheat is thriving, other crops are not.
Van Allen also sells seed. His pallets are full because farmers haven't been able to plant yet due to the unusual spring.
"Last year at this time I think all the corn was in the ground, most of the soybeans have been in the ground at this time and very little is planted yet," Van Allen said.
That's a concern, since cut off times for planting can hit as early as mid-May.
On the rancher side, less cattle are going to market in El Dorado. That is also good news. Many producers sold off livestock last fall when feed costs nearly doubled due to dry conditions.
"It just takes a lot more to raise a calf, to keep a cow for a whole year than it did," said Chris Lock, who owns the El Dorado Livestock Auction. "A lot of it is because of the drought."
Lock hears from ranchers everyday and says if they can get a good hay crop and put some feed away for next winter, they'll be okay. That's if we get more moisture
"It would be a very positive thing for the whole industry, but we need it from Texas on up to the Dakotas and west," Lock said. "It's just such a large area."
Since so many farmers and ranchers have been affected, you will too.
Usually food costs go up an average of 2.8% each year, but the drought will force those prices up even more.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this year beef prices are set to rise 4-5%. Dairy prices will go up as much as 4.5% and grain products could see a 4% jump. Prices could go up even more if the drought continues.