Extreme Drought Affecting Great Plains and Beyond
Farmers and ranchers in the Southern Great Plains are in a drought with conditions worsening since November. While the drought affects many of the contiguous states, the states experiencing the worst conditions are Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Kansas. According to the current United States Drought Monitor, the entire state of Oklahoma is in at least a moderate drought; more than 80 percent of the state is considered either in a severe or extreme drought. South of the Red River, 90 percent of Texas is in some level of drought, from abnormally dry to extreme drought.
Oklahoma is experiencing its seventh driest period since 1921, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
Producers need to have contingency plans in place now to help decision-making easier as we move through the spring. Even with recent rains, we are expecting the conditions to worsen through the spring. Producers need to assess water and forage sources, keeping in mind expected forage production and water quantity to match animal demand. Immediate steps to consider taking are: buying hay while it is still available and culling cows to help mitigate further impacts to operations. It's important for farmers and ranchers to gather their information and take steps as soon as possible. Keeping close records and knowing production costs is important in making timely and effective management decisions.
U.S. Drought Conditions for Feb. 20, 2018
Abnormally dry conditions in south-central New Mexico improved recently. However, the heavier precipitation missed the Four Corners region, worsening the long-term precipitation deficits.
Recent rains have given some locations their first measurable precipitation in months. Abnormal to extreme drought continues to plague almost all of Texas.
Drought conditions remained the same in Oklahoma, as the rainfall in western Oklahoma was not enough to improve conditions because of continued long-term precipitation deficits.
Drought conditions in central Arkansas improved because of recent rainfall. The northwest section of the state is still in abnormal drought or higher.