July 13, 2014

Nebraska rancher: producers will have to fight through second year of drought

It has rained enough to keep southeastern and parts of eastern Nebraska from drought conditions this year after an extremely dry year.

Central and western Nebraska have been less fortunate.

Drought has entered its second year in those areas, wilting crops and drying up pastures.

Dick Helms operates a cow-calf seed stock operation near Arapahoe in south-central Nebraska. He says the second dry year is taking its toll.

“Last year, we were about 50% on precip. This year it looks like we’re about the same; just not enough to really help out that much and our pastures are pretty well gone,” Helms tells Ken Anderson with Brownfield Ag News. “And, of course, we have to try to manage those so we don’t damage the grass. We’re dry-lotting cows. We wean calves early; those types of management practices.”

The lingering drought hasn’t just affected Helms’ herd. It has had an effect on the sale of bulls as producers throughout the state react to the drought by reducing their herds.

“There are a lot less cows around in our area. A lot of our bull customers, they’ve marketed say a third of their cows this spring to try to make sure they have enough grass for the rest of them,” Helms says. “It just depends if this goes another year, because each year that drought gets worse. Your resources just continue to dwindle.”

Helms says Nebraska producers have been through this before and will just have to fight through it.

Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this story.