The drought map this year does not look near as ominous as last year at this time, although there are still areas of concern. Seventeen percent of respondents in the Tidbits survey indicated drought was a top concern for the year. Presently 82 percent of the state’s land area is either abnormally dry or under some form of drought. Three percent of the state, mostly Scotts Bluff, Banner, and Morrill Counties, is under extreme drought. Winter wheat looks to be most at risk from drought at this point. The dryness has been compounded by the high winds in December which blew soil and exposed plants. Panhandle production of corn and sugar beets could also be impacted if adequate water for irrigation is not available. Good snowpack this winter will be needed. Irrigated producers elsewhere might face increased costs with additional pumping. And ranchers could experience forage production problems. Last year plentiful precipitation mollified the drought concerns. The same needs to occur this year.
Figure 2. Nebraska Drought Monitor, December 30, 2021