Southwest U.S. Producers Facing an Expanding Drought

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Drought has begun to tighten its grip on a large area of the southwestern United States. Farmers, ranchers, and water managers are getting ready for what’s expected to be more warm and dry weather through the spring. The Federal Drought Map shows conditions worsening over portions of New Mexico and Arizona. All of Nevada and Utah are affected by some level of drought as well. The drought map shows Oklahoma setting up for what looks to be the worst drought conditions in the U.S. The Panhandle is an area dominated by agriculture, and the amount of land that’s under exceptional drought has more than doubled in size. Cole Perriman of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board says, “We’re in the irrigation period but it would be really fantastic to get some precipitation out of those areas.” Crop conditions in the drought-plagued areas are declining as extreme drought spans from Kansas and Oklahoma to California. Three-quarters of the winter wheat crop in New Mexico is in poor to very poor condition as meaningful precipitation has been almost non-existent since last fall. Arizona ranchers are concerned as poor range conditions have left their stock tanks dry.

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