Rain relieves some drought, helps farmers during planting season

The latest data from the drought monitor shows that 99% of the state is at least abnormally dry and 96% is in at least moderate drought.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 6:33 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - In the last week, Nebraskans have received some much needed precipitation. The rain is helping to tackle drought, which most recently covered 90% of the state.

Farmers, like Tom Peterson, said the rain is coming at just the right time.

On days like Monday when the rain is steady, Peterson is in his shed fixing things up for when he is ready to plant again.

“We are dry, it’s dry down below I think,” Peterson said. “It’s going to take a lot of moisture like this. Slow rains that soak in, go down, and we’ll get a little break. That’s what those April showers are all about, that we didn’t even get.”

To fully understand the drought Nebraska is in, 10/11 spoke with our own meteorologist, Brandon Rector.

“January 1st throught April 27th, we’d only had 2 and 2/3 inches of precipitation in Lincoln, we’ve actually now in the past four days have picked up more than that,” Rector said.

The latest data from the drought monitor shows that 99% of the state is at least abnormally dry and 96% is in at least moderate drought. But local climatologist Martha Shulski said the weather pattern seems to be changing.

“We’re happy to see a shift in the pattern as we enter the wettest 2 months of the year, typically May and June average in total about 8 to 9 inches,” Shulski said.

Peterson said he’s already done some planting. The latest numbers from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service show that 28% of corn in the state has been planted, behind the 37% average last year. 19% of soybeans have been planted, just one percentage point behind last year.

The rain does more than support planting season; drought also has economic ramifications too.

“We’re seeing higher prices because of world events, but the prices are a little volatile now,” Jay Rempe, an economist with Nebraska Farm Bureau said. “Most farmers will be sitting there thinking, I want to price a little bit of my crop. When you have this kind of weather event where you’re in drought and move into moisture, you’re not sure what kind of crop you’re going to produce because this can impact yields.”

Peterson hopes the rain expected this week will help area farmers during the hotter summer months.

“You’ve got to have something to sustain the crop through the hot summers,” Peterson said. “Like for the corn, the roots go down pretty deep to draw on moisture. But, if it’s too dry, they won’t have enough to survive on

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