UNL CropWatch April 7, 2011: Drought Conditions Expand Into Southern Nebraska

UNL CropWatch April 7, 2011: Drought Conditions Expand Into Southern Nebraska

April 7, 2011

U.S. Drought Monitor Map

Abnormally dry and moderate drought areas moved north this week further into Nebraska, causing concern for wheat and dryland fields. For more information, see drought.unl.edu/dm.  (Source: April 7, 2011 U.S. Drought Monitor Map by Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center)

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor has now expanded moderate drought conditions into portions of southwest, south central, and central Nebraska. This area lies on the northern fringe of an expansive drought area extending from Texas north through western Kansas. The worst drought conditions are depicted across western Texas and Oklahoma where extreme drought conditions have decimated winter wheat crops.

The U.S. Drought Monitor authors and I have concluded that fall and spring moisture has been insufficient to build adequate sub-soil moisture reserves for this cropping season in these areas of Nebraska. Even with normal precipitation from now until the end of the growing season, warm season crops would not have enough soil moisture reserves to produce normal yield for dryland crops.

Precipitation since last October is 2-6 inches below normal in southeast Nebraska. This represents a loss of 1.5-4.0 inches of subsoil moisture we would normally have by late March. In April we normally receive an average of 0.50 inch (west) to 0.75 inch (east) of precipitation each week. .

It will need to turn exceptionally wet during the upcoming three weeks to reduce these long-term deficits. Unfortunately, the April forecast for Nebraska continues to indicate a drier than normal trend for the area now shown to be in moderate drought conditions. If April precipitation is below normal, it’s entirely possible that moderate drought conditions may encompass much of Nebraska south of I-80 before the end of April.

Al Dutcher
Extension State Climatologist