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Oklahoma's exceptional drought area more than doubles in week, report shows

Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor reports shows 38.86 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought, compared to 16.03 percent the previous week. In all, 100 percent of Oklahoma falls in the severe to exceptional drought categories.
by Bryan Painter Published: August 17, 2012

Anderson said wildfires are still a major concern.

Fires that have occurred in the last two weeks have eliminated some producer's total pasture and hay reserves for the winter. The fires have left nothing behind. Many also lost equipment and structures and even their homes. The fires have eliminated some people's livelihood.

“This year's drought is worse than last year in the fact that it encompassed a larger area,” he said. “Last year, producers were purchasing hay from neighboring states. This year's drought has also affected them and beyond so there are no surpluses of hay around. This year's drought is also affecting grain production. With reduced grain supplies, this year's feed cost will sharply increase again affecting a producer's bottom line.”

Again this year, producers will be faced with deciding to reduce livestock numbers, sell out or prepare for increased expenses to provide adequate supplementation to their livestock, he said.

Stan Fimple, OSU Extension educator in Pawnee County, said producers in his county, which is also in exceptional drought, are facing a shortage of forage, water and high feed and hay prices and crop losses.

“Crop producers are facing the potential of a total loss with their soybeans,” he said. “Yields have been drastically affected as it is, and if we don't get a rain real soon it will be a total loss.

“Livestock producers need to be planting wheat in the next four weeks for fall and winter forage. If we don't get a rain soon that will delay planting, which in turn will reduce the amount of forage available for grazing this fall. And if it stays, dry-area wheat producers will be affected.”

He said some producers already reduced cattle numbers due to the lack of forage and high hay prices.

Hoping for changes

Gary McManus, of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, said the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released Thursday indicates the possible persistence of drought through November for most of the state. Improvements are expected in areas surrounding Oklahoma.

“There is rain in the forecast,” McManus said Thursday. “That rain and milder temperatures will be just what the doctor ordered to hopefully get some areas of the state decent relief.

“Keep in mind that a lot of rain is needed to bring us out of drought, especially considering the impacts are compounded by last year's drought as well. According to an estimate by the CPC (Climate Prediction Center), from 9 inches to more than 15 inches will be needed to bring the state completely out of drought.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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