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Oklahoma Farmers And Ranchers Flooded With New Problems As Drought Ends

U.S Drought Monitor as of May 29, 2015
U.S. Drought Monitor
U.S Drought Monitor as of May 29, 2015

Given the choice between the crippling drought of the past nearly 5 years and the ongoing threat of flooding Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are currently dealing with, Chris Kirby with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission says she’ll take the rain every time.

“I’ve heard some people say, ‘well, I don’t want to complain about the rain, because the last time I did, it quit raining for six years,” Kirby tells StateImpact.

But flooding has becoming a big problem for the agriculture industry, and, as The Oklahoman‘s Silas Allen reports, is cutting into what was expected to be a much better wheat crop compared to the past few years:

“We’ve gone from one extreme to the other,” said Charlie Swanson, a farmer near Roosevelt, about 20 miles east and 17 miles north of Altus. … About 30 days ago, farmers in the area were looking forward to above-average wheat yields, he said. But hail and floods have damaged some crops, leaving the area with only about 70 percent of what it expected, making it a below-average year, he said.

Whether it’s one of the worst droughts on record, or the rainiest month in state history, wheat farmers in Oklahoma just can’t catch a break. Swanson does tell the paper it should be a great year for cotton, with all the farm ponds now full and plenty of soil moisture.

Livestock producers are also facing problems they haven’t had to deal with in a very long time, like cattle being stranded because of flooding.

Earlier this week, a river in Muskogee County rose out of its banks, flooding a ranch and leaving 100 cows stranded. On Wednesday morning, Oklahoma National Guard soldiers dropped 14 bales of hay and about 700 pounds of dry feed from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Maj. Geoff Legler said. Legler, who participated in the drop, said it isn’t the first time National Guard soldiers have come to the aid of stranded livestock.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.


KGOU is a community-supported news organization and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.

Logan Layden is a reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma. Logan spent six years as a reporter with StateImpact from 2011 to 2017.
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