Stillwater News Press

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June 18, 2014

June rain blessing for farmers, ranchers

STILLWATER, Okla. — Payne County was miserably dry from January to May, but June brought greener pastures and lawns for farmers, ranchers and residents.

The lack of rain has been worst at Lone Chimney Lake, which has been experiencing drought conditions since 2010. But farmers and others around the county are celebrating as spring draws to a close.

In the past 14 days, Stillwater has received 2.08 inches of rain, and 5.39 inches of rain in the past 30 days, according to the            Oklahoma Mesonet’s website.

It has come in a time of great need for all of Payne County. The past few years have seen the county lack in rainfall totals, and the beginning to 2014 was no different.

Through May, Stillwater accumulated 3.19 inches of rain. In 2013, that total was passed before the end of February.

Nathan Anderson, extension educator of the Payne County OSU Cooperative Extension Center, said the rain totals throughout June have given people a much-needed boost before the summer heat arrives.

“Of course everybody welcomed it,” Anderson said. “It was a blessing to receive, considering previous conditions that we’ve had the last three years of summers that we’ve had. Very drought-stricken, very dry, low production affects everybody, including attitude, mood, temperament and everything else.

“As far as ag production in the county, the wheat crop we’ve had in the ground that would normally be just now completed harvesting, that was long gone before the rain ever came. So it hasn’t changed our harvest. We are primarily a cattle county relying on forages and hay.”

Even though the rains haven’t done much for the wheat harvest, Anderson said the rain has still been big for agricultural production in the county.

“Farm ponds have gone way down or dried up, but the rain Monday night, I dumped out 4.7 (inches) at my house,” Anderson said. “That filled a lot of ponds; I’ve gotten a lot of notifications. Lifesaving situation probably for some. Forage and hay production is probably behind 30 days, but the rain will be a tremendous help and hopefully boost us for a while. I hope it isn’t a one-time thing.”

Bill Lile, a cattle farmer in Stillwater, certainly hopes it doesn’t. He’s been extremely grateful for the rain and what is has done for the upkeep of his cattle.

“It was serious, but it was going to get a whole lot more serious if we didn’t get more rain,” Lile said. “One rain we had about three and a half inches, so total we’ve probably had close to eight inches. It varied from person to person. It makes everybody more optimistic; I’m optimistic I’m gonna get my hay cutter ready to go soon.”

Lile owns 80 acres, on which he maintains 21 cows along with their calves. He said the big pond he owns has been filled near to the brim by the rain, and he’s had fish put in the pond.

And for Lone Chimney Lake, the rain was especially welcome. Manager Paul Kinder said the recent rains raised the lake six inches, which now sits 14 1/2 feet below normal.

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