Officials: Texas Panhandle drought could get worse

Officials: Texas Panhandle drought could get worse.
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 March fires burned nearly 2,100 square miles in the four states.
Agriculture officials say the fires also killed more than 20,000 cattle and pigs and damaged or destroyed about $55 million worth of fences.
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 costler feed or culling their herds.
Crops and grassland across the high plains thrived last year after a far worse drought from about 2010 to 2015.
Stanley Barby, a lifelong rancher in the Oklahoma Panhandle, said he had been adding to his herd slowly to protect the recuperating grassland.
“We were trying to let that grass recover from the drought and so we didn’t overgraze,” he said.
He lost nearly 50 cattle, three houses and more than 150 miles (240 kilometers) 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.

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