Despite adequate rains in most of Oklahoma, the
far western Panhandle of the state is experiencing severe drought
conditions, particularly in Cimarron and Texas Counties.
In Cimarron County, few dryland wheat acres will be
harvested this year. By mesonet data, wheat acres in Cimarron Co. have
received .81 inches of rainfall since October 2007.
“The area is historically dependent upon winter
snows to assist in filling soil moisture profiles and those were not
forthcoming,” states Cherrie Brown, District Conservationist in Boise
According to Brown, little to no acres are
available for grazing. The mesonet shows that the area is experiencing a
deficit of 8.21". Many producers are reconsidering their number of corn
acres to be planted under irrigation this season due to depleted soil
moisture, high gas prices and seed costs.
Much of the rangeland acres in the northern and
western areas of the county have received less than .1 of an inch of
moisture in over a year. Conditions in those areas are promoting erosion
from wind for the first time in years. Virtually little to no grazing
acres are left unaffected from forced deferment or herd reduction. The
plight of farming and ranching producers in the Panhandle is also
Cimarron County producer Gary Speilman
traditionally plants corn under irrigation. However, this year he will
not plant corn due to lack of supplemental moisture from snow and
rainfall, combined with high fuel, fertilizer and seed costs.
Charles Tapp, a dryland farmer in the western
Oklahoma Panhandles, states that he may consider reduction of farmable
acres due to economic stress of potential crop failure.
Even for well-seasoned farmers, this is one of the
toughest years in terms of moisture and the economy.
"We've had some bad years in the panhandle, but we
didn't have the high prices along with it,” says Eugene Boyd, an area
rancher in his eighties. “Cake for my cattle is running $300 a ton and
here it is May, and my grass isn't greening up yet."