Report 5-4-21

The drought in Colorado continues to intensify, with nearly 15% of the state experiencing Exceptional Drought, the highest drought rating, 32% is in Extreme Drought and 61% is suffering from Severe Drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. The entire Four Corners Region is in extreme to exceptional drought with exception of the Chuska mountains, Conditions are unlikely to change in the near term, because the National Weather Service long range forecast is predicting that drought conditions will persist into mid summer. In response to drought and low water supplies, water managers have significantly curtailed irrigation water allocations for farmers and ranchers, dryland farmers are reconsidering what they’ll plant this spring, and many ranchers are setting up drought contingency plans. Barring a miracle of nature, all of us who live in the Region will have to adapt to limited water supplies. Home owners also need to plan for a dry summer concerning their lawns and gardens. Colorado State University Extension and turf grass specialists recommend that grass should be cut to no less than three to four inches in height and that only a third of the leaves of the growing grass should be cut at anyone time. Water should be applied with deep infrequent watering to the depth of the root system. Generally, the root system of grasses are about the same length as the top growth, so continually mowing grass down to an inch and a half doesn’t allow grass to grow root systems that are tolerant of dry conditions. Experts suggest that when the grass doesn’t spring back after it’s walked it should be watered, but if water supplies are very short, home owners should consider applying water to shrubs and trees, which cost much more to replace than grass.

Wheat futures hit $7.37 per bushel yesterday, the highest s price since February of 2013, and farmers in the Midwest are watching corn and soybean prices climb, with corn futures hitting their highest level in more than seven years at $6.80 per bushel. Both corn and soybeans have gained ground based on world supply and dry conditions in Brazil and Argentina over the past six weeks.

Biden’s proposal to conserve 30 percent of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030 has raised concerns within the agriculture industry. Last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation joined a growing number of trade groups asking the administration for more details about the initiative’s goals. Some groups contend that the administration intends to take land away from farmers, but USDA Secretray Tom Vilsack is assuring farmers that the USDA is focused on rewarding ag producers for implementing sustainable farm practices. Vilsack points to revamping the Conservation Reserve Program to enroll up to four million acres of marginal farm ground with higher payment rates as a start for the initiative.

Last week, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that it is seeking proposals through June 21 for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials as part of the agency’s Conservation Innovation Grant program, which features collaboration between NRCS and partners to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. NRCS will invest up to $25 million for On-Farm Trials in 2021.

English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley wrote, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

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