Ag Weather Forum

Drought Still Grips Southwest Plains

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
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This graphic, from NOAA's suite of "observed precipitation" products, shows the Water Year 2013-14 to date precipitation for Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. The Water Year runs from October 1-October 1, and is a useful timetable for precipitation, since the first half of this time period occurs when vegetation is dormant; thus, moisture that is received is most likely to infiltrate into the soil profile.

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As you can see, almost all of western Oklahoma through the Texas Panhandle has had no more than 25% of normal precipitation since last October 1. Just a small section of the northern Texas Panhandle and the Oklahoma Panhandle have seen more than 50% of normal precipitation; and average to above average is a small sliver of the northeast OK Panhandle north into southwestern Kansas. Central Oklahoma and western Texas both have generally had around 50% of normal precipitation.

This is a worrisome situation as we head into spring. This region of the southwest Plains, of course, has had drought dating back to late 2010 with no respite. Moisture supplies for hay and pasture are still meager. Dryland wheat and cotton production are also threatened. Irrigation supplies remain very tight. And, even though we have already seen extensive cow herd liquidation already, there may be even more, rather than heifer retention, because of this ongoing drought.


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