Drought Hits all Ag Areas Hard

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Extension Educator Mark Hinze says irrigation is keeping Nebraska's corn going during this drought, but says dryland corn and areas where irrigation doesn't reach is suffering.

He says corn that was planted early this year has had to deal with tough growing conditions in nearly every stage and started pollinating last week during the hottest temperatures. Meanwhile, corn planted later that's just starting to pollinate this week is having an easier time.

"Timing is everything and when a farmer plants his crop early in the spring, who knows what the temperature is going to be like in the end of June and July," says Hinze. "It just seems like this year we're about a week advanced if that."

This drought has been hard on livestock producers as pastures and hayfields dry up. The University of Nebraska has a website where ranchers can start putting together a drought plan and even look at sample drought plans from other ranches.

One extension educator says that the hit crops are taking will have a direct impact on what's available for livestock feed.

"You link that to the fact that we don't have any hay and where stalks are going to be out there and are going to be limited and probably some of the forages we have will be high in nitrates, so we have a lot of problems facing us going into fall," says Dewey Lienemann, Webster County Extension Educator.

Officials say dry pastures also make it hard for herbicides to work because the part of the plant where they enter closes when the plant gets too dry.

"Right now with the grass being so dry a lot of times the control is somewhat of a factor, at least that's on people's minds, they're not getting as good of control like with their broad leafed sprays and so forth." says Hinze.

Nebraska's wheat harvest also started early this year, and Lienemann says the crop in Webster County and south central Nebraska did not fare well without moisture.

"[The] average was somewhere about 30 bushels which is probably 15 below what we had anticipated," he says.

Officials say soybeans haven't been immune either, and they've seen more producers irrigating earlier than normal.

Ag officials say fall rains and snow this winter will have the greatest impact on subsoil moisture and set the tone for next year.

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