Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 20, 2012

Payne County farmers watch crops shrivel

STILLWATER, Okla. — Pasture grasses and summer crops burn up in Payne County fields. Producers pull out hay bales to feed cattle that normally would be grazing in pastures.

It’s Oklahoma’s second summer of severe drought and associate state climatologist Gary McManus doesn’t see a break soon.

“I see drought conditions intensifying as the combination of the heat and wind we are having gets worse,” McManus said.

Thursday’s update of the U.S. Drought Monitor shows the Oklahoma Panhandle, northeastern Oklahoma and far southwestern Oklahoma in extreme drought. Severe drought conditions carpet the rest of Oklahoma and much of the middle section of the United States.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for 100-plus degree highs with lows in the mid-70s for the next 10 days.

Wayne Grider, a cattleman south of Perkins, said he is using hay bales he would normally sell to feed his livestock because his pastures are barren.

“We usually don’t feed hay in the summer,” Grider said, “but this summer the pastures just burned up.”

Water for his cattle isn’t a problem for Grider. The ponds aren’t full, but they are far from dry.

“All of them have water. Some farmers are hauling in water already,” Grider said.

Richard Pratz raises cattle and grows wheat and summer crops — milo and soybeans — on his acreage north of Stillwater.

“Grass is burning up. There’s very little hay. Hay supplies are half of normal. Conditions for grazing cows are deteriorating in a hurry,” Pratz said.

Oklahoma’s summer crops of milo and soybeans are wilting and the corn crop is largely destroyed, he said.

“The milo is starting to burn up. If you planted soybeans early, they burned up. If you planted them later, the soybeans are hanging in there,” Pratz said. “If we don’t get rain in the next week or so, things are going to be in dire shape.”

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