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Precipitation in February helps in struggle with drought

The statewide average precipitation since Oct. 1, 2010 is 24.7 inches below normal, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet.
BY BRYAN PAINTER Staff Writer bpainter@opubco.com Published: March 1, 2013
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Stanley Barby of the Barby Ranches near Beaver in the Oklahoma Panhandle said they received 4 to 6 inches of blowing snow with the latest winter storm. He added that snows were much heavier to the east of his ranch. He said the winter storm before that one brought 8 inches of a good, wet snow “and probably an inch and a half of moisture.” That adds to some smaller totals since the first of the year.

“It's not going to fix anything and we'll have to have more to go with it, but it sure is going to give it a little bit of a green start,” Barby said.

Mark Hodges, executive director of Plains Grains Inc./Oklahoma Genetics Inc., which tests wheat for quality, said the Oklahoma wheat crop overall was in very poor condition in terms of plant development before many areas received some moisture in recent days.

“We did not have the type of root system development we would have liked for this time of year, assuming the seed had even germinated,” Hodges said. “Nor did we have the stem production we would have liked.

“Because much of the crop development is well behind normal, much of the plant's energy over the next few weeks will be devoted to root and stem growth, in contrast to years of normal crop development when much of that growth has taken place by this time of year.”

He said how that affects the final production numbers is yet to be seen, as there is a long way to go with this wheat crop.

Winter to spring

Friday marks the start of the three months of spring in terms of weather records.

The winter started out in December much like the previous eight months, warm and dry. Oklahoma stayed warm through January precipitation was near normal that month. Then in February came a cool-down and above-normal rainfall.

McManus said Oklahoma can't afford to have another bad spring like the last two.

“We were off to a good start last year during March but the rain really tapered off after that, and drought exploded once again as we moved into summer,” he said. “The spring rainy season is the key to preventing a full third year of drought.”