Extreme drought now affects 15 counties in southwest Kansas, and severe drought covers almost all of southern Kansas. While there is a chance of rain or snow in the forecast, the National Weather Service puts that chance at 20-30%.
Conditions are even worse south in Oklahoma, with the entire state in at least severe drought. Texas is also dry, with the worst of the drought in the panhandle and just to the south of the panhandle.
“Producers need to have contingency plans in place now to help make decision-making easier as we move through the spring,” says Hugh Aljoe, director of producer relations for the Noble Research Institute. “Even with rain in the short-term forecast, we are expecting the conditions to worsen through the spring.”
Noble agricultural consultants advise producers to immediately assess water and forage sources. Farmers and ranchers should match expected forage production and water quantity with animal demand, which may lead to destocking of cattle herds.
As drought conditions continue, farmers and ranchers should consider taking immediate steps to help mitigate further impacts to their operations, such as buying hay while it is still available and culling cows. Historically, cattle prices decline and supplemental feed costs increase the longer a drought persists.
“It is important that farmers and ranchers gather their information and take steps as soon as possible,” Aljoe said. “Keeping close records and knowing production costs is important in making timely and effective management decisions.”
For up-to-date drought management information, the Noble Research Institute has developed a special web page (www.noble.org/drought) to serve as a central source for resources to assist agricultural producers throughout this difficult situation. Timely management tips will also be provided on the organization’s social media channels.
Source: Noble Research Institute