Assistant State Agriculture Director Mat Habrock says we’ve just had one of the warmer winters on record but it was followed by a cool, wet spring.
“We didn’t see a lot of the winter snows that we generally get and there wasn’t a ton of snowpack that can influence some of our river and stream flows into Nebraska,” Habrock says. “Then we had that really late March and April winter that crept up on us and dumped some snowfalls across pretty big portions of the state. Not a typical winter by any means.”
Habrock met recently with other members of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Climate Assessment Response Committee to talk about weather conditions and predictions.
Farmers had an abrupt about-face from the cool spring with some very hot days in May and into June, with temperatures reaching well into the 90s. Habrock says that heat is another big concern.
“We’ve had some great rains across western Nebraska and up through the Sand Hills that have really helped conditions there but we are seeing dryness set in in southeast Nebraska,” Habrock says. “There’s a lot of dryness to the southwest of us in the Four Corners area. That’s a little concerning as far as what it may mean as the heat settles in.”
There are fears there may not be enough groundwater moisture for the dryland crops to be able to survive the summer.
Habrock says drought, like any weather condition, is an uncertainty but he adds farmers and ranchers can do more today to get ready.
“Producers are looking at what they can do to be best prepared for variability in the weather,” he says. “We’re seeing great strides in conservation practices that are helping to build soil capacity.”
With advancements in technology and farming practices, as climate changes happen, he hopes farmers can respond more quickly.
Habrock says over the next two months, it could be quite hot and dry, but long-term, there’s a good possibility of more moisture going into fall.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton