Drought conditions across much of Nebraska will limit grain yields in dryland corn this year, leading growers to look at other options for harvesting value from these fields. In some cases, harvesting this plant material may contribute to nutrient and water removal from the soil and may not be the best solution for your rotation or cropping system.
The July 18 Drought Monitor for Nebraska reflected a decline in conditions from last week. Three-quarters of the state was either abnormally dry (49.5%) or in moderate (24%) to severe drought (less than 1 %).
Spotty rains and drought conditions in some areas of the state as well as hail and wind damage are leading growers to seek alternative uses for rainfed corn fields. Fortunately, there are several forage alternatives.
Short range numerical models bring additional chances for moisture to the eastern half of the state from July 2 through early July 4, likely the best chance for moisture for northern Nebraska through next weekend. If substantial rains in excess of 2 inches fail to materialize, there is a strong possibility that moderate drought conditions will be introduced across portions of the eastern Sandhills and northeast Nebraska next week.
It will certainly take several days of drying before most soils across the state are fit for planting, but recent models do indicate a window of opportunity for producers to make headway with their planting. The short-term forecast offers a return to normal temperatures by the end of this week with the possibility of precipitation coming back into the picture May 10.