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average annual precipitation of 19.01 inches. The air here is almost as dry and bracing as in summer resorts of the Rocky Mountains. The amount of sunshine exceeds that of almost any part of the country except the Southwest. The wind movement is rather high. The range between day and night temperatures is considerably greater than at points farther east.
Over the ten-year period ending with 1945, this area produced an annual average of 49,200,000 bushels of hard winter wheat--approximately 31 per cent of the State's total. Large crops of grain sorghums are raised and specialized varieties of corn make good yields in favorable years. Vegetables and melons of excellent quality are raised in limited areas by irrigation, chiefly by pumping from the almost inexhaustible sources of ground water that underlie this part of the State.
A favorable feature of the rainfall of Western Kansas is pointed out by Dr. H. H. Laude, Professor of Agronomy, Kansas State College in the following:
"The comparatively low rainfall of the western part of Kansas is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the production of high protein wheat for which this region is so well known. Moderate mounts of rainfall during the latter stages of growth of the wheat plant combined with favorable temperatures favor nitrification processes in the soil and thus ample nitrogen is made available for protein synthesis at a critical time during the growth of the wheat plant. Limited rainfall frequently results in only moderate total growth of the wheat plant and thus high protein wheat is assured.
"Soils in this section of the State are seldom if ever acid or lacking in lime and do not require fertilization. This abundance of lime is very favorable for microbial activity in the soil, an additional reason why an abundance of nitrate nitrogen is made available to the wheat plant for protein production. These soils, which are not appreciably leached by rainfall, reflect this abundance of soil minerals in the chemical composition of the plants produced in this vicinity."
An article by Dr. William A. Albrecht, a specialist in soils, University of Missouri, points out that in World War I and World War II Selective Service statistics showed a "health belt" in a group of western states centering around Colorado--all in a region of light rainfall—where for every ten men examined seven were found acceptable for military service, while in some parts of the country, where the soil had been leached by heavy rains, only three out of ten were acceptable. He also points out that Navy records show men from this region of light rainfall averaged fewer cavities in their teeth than men from more humid sections of the country. Dr. Albrecht considers these favorable features of physique in the drier parts of the country were in a great measure due to the fact that soil fertility supplied the necessary elements for health.
The amount of rain and snow that falls from year to year is the chief factor in determining the growth and yield of crops over the State.
Normal annual totals range from slightly more than 40 inches in the southeastern counties to near 30 inches in the northeastern and decrease rather uniformly to the west. At the Colorado line the average is between 16 and 17 inches. (See chart on page 26.)
The average for the State as a whole is somewhat less than that for states to the east, except Minnesota, but is greater than that of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Colorado, Wyoming, or Montana. (See chart on page 9.)
In the distribution of precipitation through the year, Kansas is especially fortunate. From 70 to 77 per cent of the annual total falls during the six crop-growing months, April to September, when it is most needed. The eastern third has an average of 24.64 inches for those months, which is greater than the average for other states, except a few along the Gulf Coast. (See chart on page 10.)