drought

Christmas trees are in short supply across the country, but growers in Kansas say they’ve mostly recovered from recent droughts.

Celia Goering, president of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, says a few years ago Kansas tree growers were struggling.

"This situation is looking wonderful now because we’ve had good rains in the last couple years, and that makes all the difference," she says. "The trees are growing. They’re beautiful."

US Drought Monitor

For only the fifth time since 2000, Kansas is entirely drought-free.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the late-April winter storm brought more than two feet of snow to some parts of western Kansas and double-digit accumulation to a narrow band that stretched north to south in the western third of the state, erasing the final remnants of a drought that has been gradually receding during a remarkably wet spring.

By the end of 2016, nearly 83 percent of the state was experiencing some degree of drought.

CC0 Public Domain

Over the next couple of weeks, much of the country is expected to see above-average precipitation, a welcome sight for many farmers, particularly those in the fire-ravaged High Plains.

Management following a wildfire: Effects on vegetation and soils

Mar 1, 2017
Courtesy photo

Dry conditions at this time of year can lead to an increased danger of wildfires. While a fire from a prescribed burn in the spring will not harm perennial grasses on grazing lands, a wildfire may act differently. A wildfire can cause enough damage, especially to bunch grasses, to result in a decline in productivity for a year or two. This is not always the case, however. The best general advice on burned rangeland is to just wait and see how well it recovers.

Ice storm brings much needed moisture to Kansas crops

Jan 24, 2017
Kansas State Research and Extension

While last week’s ice storm wreaked a lot of havoc in the form of power outages, broken tree limbs and icy roads, it also brought much needed precipitation to Kansas’s wheat and alfalfa crops.

Kristofer Husted / KBIA/Rural Blog

Hydroponic farming could present an answer for farmers trying to find a way to grow crops in areas decimated by drought. Hydronics are a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.

As The Rural Blog reports, the idea is catching on in places like Egypt that are strapped for H2O. And some farmers in the U.S. are now looking to the technique as a solution for drought-ridden regions.

theogeo / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma cotton is back.

After years of struggling through dry conditions, the fluffy white stuff has returned in force to Oklahoma farmland, reports KFOR.

Kansas wheat crop facing drought

Dec 13, 2016
Brian McGuirk / Flickr Creative Commons

The condition of the winter wheat crop in Kansas is varied because of a lack of moisture.

US Drought Monitor

Colorado has been abnormally dry in recent months.

But, as KUSA Denver reports, that could be changing. Becky Bolinger, a climatologist with the Colorado Climate Center in Fort Collins, says Colorado’s “going through a bit of a shift right now.”

Much of High Plains remains in drought

Nov 28, 2016
Jeroen Moes

Much of the High Plains region continues to be plagued by at least moderate drought.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, western Kansas, eastern Colorado and the Oklahoma panhandle are in moderate to severe drought.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Two years ago Oklahoma was experiencing a devastating drought. Then came 2015. Last year was the wettest year ever in Oklahoma. And the rain keeps coming. The state has breathed a collective sigh of relief since the drought’s end. But many climate scientists are now saying “not so fast,” reports StateImpact.

NDSU

Kansas’s winter wheat crop has received a timely boost from Mother Nature, reports The Garden City Telegram. After threats of a returning drought, recent rains brought yearly rain totals up past normal amounts for this time of year.

weather.gov/norman / KGOU

April’s weather was exceptionally aggressive this year in Oklahoma, reports KGOU. Despite early fears of a growing drought, the state saw the seventh-wettest April on record. Statewide, Oklahoma received more than six inches of precipitation during the month.

Prowers Journal

Recent precipitation has helped to alleviate drought conditions across parts of Colorado, reports The Prowers Journal. Parts of the central mountains and Front Range saw as much as 3 inches of precipitation. And there’s more good news: short and long term forecasts favor continued precipitation. And reservoir storage looks good, so there are no immediate concerns for water providers.

US Drought Monitor / myplainview.com

The encroaching drought situation in the Texas Panhandle is quickly becoming critical, says myplainview.com. The latest Water Weekly chart on soil moisture conditions, released Monday by the Texas Water Development Board, shows almost the entire Panhandle-South Plains region now under deficient soil moisture conditions.

agweb.com

Ag research has done a lot for the High Plains, but it’s not getting the recognition it deserves, according to a senior irrigation engineer at Texas A&M University. Thomas Marek says today’s irrigated agriculture is capable of producing 40 percent more grain with 90 percent less energy and 60 percent less water than in the past, reports agjournalonline.com.

travelok.com

This spring is looking to be a dry one in Western Oklahoma, reports NewsOK.com. That’s bad news for ag producers in areas like Roger Mills County. Last spring, Roger Mills saw more rain in a few months than it often does in an entire year. But, unfortunately, the county hasn’t gotten much moisture since.

colorado.com

After a year in Colorado with abundant rains, abnormally dry conditions have been creeping across southeast Colorado over the past several weeks, according to The Denver Post. Last July, Colorado was nearly devoid of any dehydration.

By Leaflet - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.07 / Wikimedia Commons

If you enjoyed the massive amounts of rain most of the High Plains received last year, you may not want to get too used to it.  The weather patterns that brought moisture to the southwestern United States in 2015 were unusual. And these wet patterns have become more rare over the last 35 years, reports Colorado Public Radio.

High Plains Ranchers Need a Drought Plan

Dec 1, 2015
Cynthia Mendoza / USDA photo

Last week Beef magazine published a warning for ranchers: If you don’t have a drought plan, get one.

Brian Bledsoe, a Colorado Springs meteorologist, gave his 2016 weather forecast to more than 700 cattle producers. “This blessing of moisture we’ve had over the High Plains . . . is not going to last,” he said. Bledsoe believes the El Niño will peak in the next month or so. After that, he says the moistures will diminish in intensity and go back the other way.

US Drought Monitor: Great Plains Experiencing Relief

Nov 17, 2015
droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has released the latest US Drought Monitor update. Things are looking up for the Great Plains. Kansas has experienced beneficial light-to-moderate precipitation, and Colorado saw some precipitation fall as snow. While parts of Eastern Kansas and Oklahoma are experiencing abnormally dry conditions and even moderate drought, the western plains areas of those states seem safe for now.

Texas Confronts Continuing Drought

Nov 9, 2015
StateImpact Texas

Texas is being forced to make some hard choices about its water use, reports StateImpact Texas. In 2011, Texas endured the worst single-year drought in its history. The current drought began in 2010.

StateImpact Texas has built an impressive interactive page on the drought, which you can view here.

In NW Kansas, Fear of Worsening Drought Conditions

Oct 8, 2015
www.kansas.com

A dry late summer in Northwest Kansas has raised concerns about a potential return to drought conditions. The latest US Drought Monitor listed the region’s drought status as “moderate,” reports Prairie Farmer.

Much of Kansas has seen enough rain to rescue wheat yields and nourish fall crops. But the stubborn northwest region has seen diminished yields of corn and soybeans. And some analysts are beginning to have concerns about next year’s winter wheat crop. 

As Drought Eases, Experts Urge Ranchers to Use Caution

Sep 16, 2015
Jennifer Carrico / High Plains Journal

Though heavy rains have brought relief to the drought-ravaged plains, the High Plains Journal warns that ranchers should be careful in the coming months and years. Though things look better than they have in ages, animal and range science experts advise ranchers to be guarded when stocking herds.

ewan_the_moomintroll / Flickr Creative Commons

America is losing groundwater at unsustainable rates. Although groundwater loss is underreported and poorly documented, it’s becoming a serious global problem, notes Beef Magazine.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

The National Drought Mitigation Center’s latest Drought Monitor has been released, and areas of southern Kansas and eastern Colorado were 2-4 degrees above normal for the week. Above-normal precipitation was confined mainly to portions of northern and eastern Kansas and western and central Nebraska, with departures of up to 3 inches above normal observed over north central Kansas. With the cooler conditions and recent rains, most of Nebraska and northwest Kansas was no longer classified as “abnormally dry.”

Texas Debates Plan to Battle Future Droughts

Jul 28, 2015
Cynthia Mendoza / Flickr Creative Commons

The current drought in Texas began in 2010. Though the situation has improved somewhat, the drought is still with us—and so are the conditions that caused it, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of local public media and NPR.

The Texas State Climatologist has declared the statewide drought effectively over. But, the main source of the Lone Star State's water supply hasn't recharged, and that's the aquifers. The biggest benefit of recent rains to the underground supply is less water is being pumped to the surface.

It takes a flood

May 29, 2015
Luke Clayton

This time last year, we were in the midst of a drought that seemed to be unending. Week after week, we watched our lake levels drop steadily. The outlook for ground nesting birds such as wild turkey and quail seemed bleak. Moisture is important for a good hatch and possibly even more necessary for the survival of young birds. Last year, there was very little ground cover in many areas to conceal newly hatched birds. Our stock ponds which often serve as private fishing hotspots were drying up. What a difference a couple of months make!

A drought update in the midst of a downpour

May 19, 2015
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

The big story from the U.S. Drought Monitor for our region is rain.  Recent rains are made large scale drought improvement across southwest and west central Kansas.  There’s a small area of severe drought in northwest Kansas where the recen rains haven’t been as substantial.  Oklahoma and Texas has experienced big improvements, but some residual dryness is evident.

Exceptional drought conditions have been completely eliminated from Texas and Oklahoma for the first time since July of 2012.

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