Drought predicted for southwest U.S. this spring

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DENISON, TX-The National Weather Service has predicted that more than 50 percent of the U.S. will experience above normal temperatures this spring and the southwest, including Texas and Oklahoma, will be in another drought.

As you can see in the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of north Texas is in "severe" to "exceptional" drought conditions. And just a few days ago, Gov. Rick Perry issued an "emergency disaster proclamation" because most of the state is in a drought.

Gunter farmer and rancher, Denise Willard, said it was tough working through the drought of 2011.

"Not real good, but I mean, we had to move cows around because there's no water in the pastures and stuff but we made it through I guess," she said.

AG instructor, Adrian O'Hanlon Jr., said his students also took a hit two years ago paying more for quality feed and hay.

"They gotta cut costs by buying a lower quality of feeds out there and sometimes lower quality of animals at times. But they do the best that they can to manage this the best they can and we're hoping we don't go through that again," he said.

But the National Weather Service said the upcoming drought could be the worst the southwest has ever seen. Especially Texas, because the state only got 68-percent of its normal rainfall last year. The state's averages temperatures has also increased by two degrees since the 70's, which increases ground evaporation.

"I hope not because there's not much grass in the pastures right now so it's gonna depend on when the grass is gonna come out of this freeze," said Willard.

O'Hanlon said another drought could mean another financial blow for farmers and ranchers.

"If there's not rain, there's not enough hay out there and when you can't feed those animals, then you'll have to feed them bag type of feed also. If you can't feed them that, but then again, with the drought grain is low in production also so all the costs go up," he said.

Willard said she will have to make some adjustments to get ready for the drought.

"There's not really any preparing. I mean, we had wheat during the winter and have them eat on them but we're taking them off to try to make more hay, trying to bale the wheat for hay and stuff like that," she said.

And O'Hanlon advises to watch water usage.

"We're just making sure that we don't have any problems with over usage of water, water recycling, that's sort of thing," he said.

According to the Texas AgriLife Extension, 2011's drought led to $7.6 billion in agricultural losses the highest on record.

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