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High Plains Drought Update


Recent rains and cooler temperatures have made a difference across the high plains.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported rainfall in Colorado and neighboring states helped reduce the drought, but were not widespread across the region. 

Moderate drought or worse conditions improved by almost 5 percent.  30 percent of the region remains in exceptional drought. 

In southwestern Colorado, a large area of moderate drought was upgraded to abnormally dry.  A little over 40 percent of the state now remains in exceptional drought designation or worse. 

Credit noaa.gov

The southern plains drought monitor website was not available due the Federal Government shut down.

In Amarillo, water use in June and July was below the five year average according to the Amarillo Globe-News.  The average doesn’t include the extreme drought of 2011.  Use in August was slightly above average.

 “We’re on track to finish the year very near average,” said Director of Utilities Emmett Autrey.  Autrey went on to say the cooler, wet weather had an impact on water use.

Recent rains have also helped topsoil conditions in western Kansas, and given farmers hope for wheat crops that are being planted according to UkrAgroConsult

“Overall people have reason to be a lot more pleased, especially those folks in western Kansas,” said Aaron Harries, marketing director for the industry group Kansas Wheat.

One of the optimists is Roger Beesley, who farms in northwest Kansas.  The Gove farmer is busy hauling corn to the elevator.  He’s hopeful about this year’s wheat crop.  Beesley expects to begin planting about 1,600 acres of wheat sometime next week.

While moisture conditions were not too bad last fall at Beesley’s farm, soil conditions have improved over two years ago.

“I think we are going to get it (wheat) up alright,” Beesley said. “We need rain after we plant and a little help next spring. It is kind of a holistic thing – you have to do the whole thing to get a good crop.”