Dire drought brings implications to water supplies and grasshopper plague

A dire drought situation in the west comes with big implications for water usage. Reservoir levels are falling and some farmers are letting fields go as they search for alternative water supplies

One of the main problems is that the west has gone through consecutive years of drought.

USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey says that the rising temperatures only aggravate things: “By increasing evaporation rates, increasing moisture demands for vegetation... the summer heat now adding on to all of the other problems. You’ve got interests including ag, municipal usage, hydro-power, recreational use, environmental needs-- all competing for a slice of limited water.”

According to the U.S. drought monitor, the drought is afflicting more than 90 percent of the American west. That is up from 43 percent a year ago, and going hand-in-hand with the drought is a plague of grasshoppers.

Cattle ranchers fear significant damage to rangelands.

To help, USDA began aerial spraying of pesticides to kill grasshopper nymphs, before developing into adults.

According to the University of Wyoming, a typical infestation can remove 20 percent of forage from the range and have a $900 million dollar impact.

In the Northern Plains and Midwest, early summer heat and drought stress roasted some crops. However, if the dryness continues will be key. DTN reports that stress this early in the season is not as damaging as drought later on.

For corn, high temperatures and a lack of moisture through July can delay emerging silks and cause yield reduction. For soybeans, the worry comes when the crop is closer to seed filling.


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