Heavy Rainfall Brings Needed Moisture, But Pushes Back Planting - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Heavy Rainfall Brings Needed Moisture, But Pushes Back Planting Season

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Severe drought conditions have been plaguing our state, but Monday night's heavy rainfall has many wondering if those conditions will improve. And with planting season right around the corner, what does all this extra moisture mean for farmers?

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows Nebraska is still the hardest–hit state in the nation, with 75 percent in exceptional drought – which is the most severe category – and most of the rest of the state in extreme drought.

Phelps County Extension Educator Tyler Williams says the rainfall will definitely move things in the right direction, but it's not going to completely get us out of the red.

"Before this system came, we got a little bit of soil moisture in the top five to 10 inches," he said. "We were doing ok, but when you get down to the third and fourth foot, we were really dry. This rain will definitely help that. When that top soil gets wet, then it moves down into the deeper soil, and that's really where we're lacking right now, is that deep soil moisture."

Corn and soybean planting was supposed to begin this week, but last night's showers and the plummeting temperatures mean that will be pushed back by at least a week.

"The moisture will slow them down a little bit, but primarily it's going to be the temperature," Williams said. "Our soil moisture temperatures were hovering around that 50 degree mark, which is a little bit less than normal for this year, but this will set us back another week or two as far as temperature."

Even with this rainfall, Williams says we're still about 10 to 15 inches below normal moisture levels for the year, and he says the key thing to remember right now is conserving moisture when it comes to irrigating.

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