Nothing but the graces of the heavens and some water left in western Nebraska aquifers will be available to finish off the potato, sugarbeet and corn crops grown there.
Wyoming reservoirs, used to store water, are nearly empty. There have been some recent rains but they will only add a few days to the water that can be delivered.
“At this point [on August 13] farmers will have no other choice than to rely on precipitation to finish out their crops,” Dean Yonts, U. of Nebraska irrigation engineer, stated.
Some growers, representing about one-third the farmers in the North Platte River Valley, will have the option of pumping groundwater. But, even that is in short supply, Yonts said.
He says with a reduction in surface water diversions over the last couple of years, less water is available for recharge. Demand for groundwater has increased, he noted. The result has been declining groundwater in the valley, which has resulted in some shallow domestic wells and stock wells going dry.
The drought has caused irrigators to delay spring startup and shut down early in the fall.
He says sugarbeets will need five-to-six inches of additional water after September 1.