Drought conditions affecting crops and water levels

Dry fields in North Platte
Dry fields in North Platte(Andre Brooks)
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 3:11 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Weather for the past few months has been on the dry side. Across the North Platte region, the amount of rainfall has been running below average and it resulted in the area being in some level of drought.

“North Platte is in a moderate drought and some parts of Lincoln County as well as Southwest Nebraska are in a severe drought,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Samuel Meltzer said.

The drought has made a great impact on the agriculture industry across the region.

“The drought itself. Looking at the University of Nebraska Drought Mitigation Center shows that we are between a D1 and D3 in the panhandle here, and that means a pretty significant impact to agriculture,” General Manager North Platte Resource District in Scottsbluff John Berge said. “If you talk to anybody at the University of Nebraska Extension Center, or any land owner out there, all the production agriculture, they will tell you that the evapotranspiration rates on crops is about roughly an inch per week, which is significant,” Berge said.

However in this drought, some crops were more affected than others.

“The dry beans looks darn good around the valley. Corn looks pretty good. Sugar beets, alfalfa, hay, they need lake water, " Berge said.

The drought has also affected the amount of water that is in the area.

“We are a groundwater limited district,” Berge said. “We are on our surface water supply for the amount of storage and reservoirs and for that we have a limitation of the amount of water that we can apply for irrigation,” Berge said.

According to the National Weather Service, the drought conditions will be seeing little to no improvements moving forward.

“For the next month or so, we do not have any strong signals for above average rainfall or below average rainfall. We’re looking ahead in the fall and next 90 days or so. It’s looking like we’re going to have below average rainfall,” Meltzer said.

For the latest information about the drought, visit the US Drought Monitor website.

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