- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - More than 49 percent of the state is free of drought conditions following the fourth-wettest six months the state has seen.

Drought was present statewide in July 2014, with the prevalence of severe drought at 77 percent compared to 1 percent currently, The Albuquerque Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1KyWshM).

Socorro County extension agent Jessica Smith says while producers are grateful for the rainfall, they aren’t counting on the drought being over for good.

“The cattle are fat and sassy, and the calves are big,” she said. “The producers I’ve talked to are super happy. I don’t think anyone thinks we are out of the woods and the drought is over for good, but they sure are grateful for what we have now.”

Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District hydrologist David Gensler says this wet year is a rare occurrence.

“It is only a tiny, tiny percent of years that the water stays up this high naturally,” Gensler said. “And with the storms setting up here for the next few days, I think we are going to get into August without having to release any water.

“So far, it is working out pretty well. It is just a good, comfortable year for everybody, the irrigators, the (endangered) silvery minnow, everybody.”

The new numbers were discussed Tuesday during a drought monitoring work group session.

Valencia County agriculture extension agent Newt McCarty says rain can mean wet hay and more weeds for cows to get into, but that inconvenient rain is better than none.

“It does reduce the farmers’ opportunity to get top dollar for their hay even though they still have to put the same money into producing it,” McCarty said. “Ninety percent of what farmers do is out of their control. A rained-on hay cutting is 25 to 30 percent of their annual income.”

McCarty said some cattle have died from eating locoweed.

“Locoweed greened up real fast, and some producers had some cows get on it,” Smith said. “A few cattle here and there were lost. The locoweed is still out there, but now there are also more desirable grasses, and the cows are feeding on that.”


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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