Nebraska state lawmakers are proposing to pay irrigators millions of dollars to not use water in reservoirs. The lawmakers are worried that excess water use in their state will lead to legal action by Kansas, which is assured adequate water flow from the Republican River under a 1943 agreement. An ongoing drought has increased the pressure on rural water districts to conserve water ... and tighten irrigation standards.
Dry conditions are an even bigger concern in the Southern Plains, where wildfires are devastating lives, as well as livelihoods.
The drought that has plagued much of the South and Western Plains for the past several months worsened with the addition of recent wildfires. By mid-week fires had swept across nearly a million acres in Texas, more than 4,000 acres in Oklahoma and 14,000 acres in western Kansas.
As Market To Market has reported, the dry weather has been especially hard on the winter wheat crop. And this week, a new crop report bears that out. The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service estimates 35% of the state's wheat crop is in very poor to poor condition. That's worse than just a week ago, when 27% of the crop was classified as poor. 29% of the wheat crop is in good to excellent condition.
The Kansas agency estimates 4% of the crop has been lost to winterkill.