Fires, drought sap high plains
Fires, drought sap high plains.
A swath of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas has been in a drought or near-drought condition for six months, putting some of the winter wheat crop in doubt.
"The first word you think of is devastating, financially," said David Clawson, a farmer and rancher in southwestern Kansas who lost 40 head of cattle to the fires.
April rains on parts of the high plains have eased the drought and helped the grassland recover, but it could be weeks or longer before cattle can be turned out to graze, leaving some ranchers a choice of buying costlier feed or culling their herds.
"Some of the ground will not be grazed this year at all to let it recover," said Oklahoma Agriculture Commissioner Jim Reese.
Drought could worsen in the Texas Panhandle, the outlook said.
Crops and grassland across the high plains thrived last year after a far worse drought from about 2010 to 2015.
He lost nearly 50 cattle, three houses and more than 150 miles of fence.
Barby, Clawson and other farmers and ranchers said they were overwhelmed by a flood of donations from farmers, ranchers and others who offered feed, fencing materials and cash.
"They’re just showing up, not asking for anything," Clawson said.