From the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai) via The Denver Post:
Exceptional drought conditions and untimely freezes that have left some southeast Colorado winter wheat fields with nothing to harvest also have limited the certified seed supply for next season. The Colorado Wheat Research Foundation works with certified seed growers of varieties developed by Colorado State University and predicts there should be enough seed available if farmers get in touch with dealers early. “It’s going to be very tight,” said Darrell Hanavan, the foundation’s executive director.
Certified seed is sold by growers authorized to raise new varieties that have patent-like protections. Customers usually are allowed to save some seed after the harvest to replant in their own fields, but it’s illegal for them to resell the seed to others.
This year, some farmers didn’t have enough of a harvest for grain, let alone seeds.
Certified seed growers in northeast Colorado, which got a little more moisture than southeast Colorado this season, have been fielding calls from southeast Colorado, western Kansas, and the panhandles of Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas to see if they have surplus certified seeds they can sell.
Dan Anderson, a certified grower near Haxtun, said his supply is already about 70 percent sold. “We’ll still have some to sell, but most of the time, we’ve never been this far sold out this early,” he said. “Most of it has gone to local customers. They know the problems further south of here, so they’re speaking for seed earlier this year.”
Kansas, the nation’s top winter wheat producer, dealt with exceptional drought on the state’s western side. However growers in the central part of the state fared better and should be able to supply their counterparts in western Kansas with seeds, said Eric Fabrizius, associate director of the Kansas Crop Improvement Association.
About 43 percent of Colorado winter wheat is grown from certified seed, while the rest is from seed that farmers saved from previous harvests, Hanavan said. There are about 40 certified growers statewide, Hanavan said.
Burl Scherler of Sheridan Lake is among the few in southeast Colorado. Scherler estimates he harvested about 20 percent of his total acres this summer, but only about half was good enough for seed he could sell. Those acres yielded about one-third of the normal, he estimated. “We ended up with probably less than 6 to 7 percent of what we sold last year,” he said.
He is working to secure seed from northern Colorado for his customers, but it could be 20 to 30 percent more expensive than usual to cover expenses. There won’t be nearly enough for everyone either. “I’ve got enough for 25 percent of what I needed,” Scherler said.
“It’s just disappointing. It’s like working all year and not getting a check,” said Scherler, who said crop insurance will help keep him afloat. “You have to be tough in this country. The weather is harsh.”
Meanwhile, here’s a report about the drought in the southwestern US from the Los Angeles Times (Julie Cart) titled, “New Mexico is the driest of the dry.” Here’s an excerpt:
Across the West, changes in the climate are taking a toll. Almost 87% of the region is in a drought…
nowhere is it worse than in New Mexico. In this parched state, the question is no longer how much worse it can get but whether it will ever get better — and, ominously, whether collapsing ecosystems can recover even if it does.
The statistics are sobering: All of New Mexico is officially in a drought, and three-quarters of it is categorized as severe or exceptional. Reservoir storage statewide is 17% of normal, lowest in the West. Residents of some towns subsist on trucked-in water, and others are drilling deep wells costing $100,000 or more to sink and still more to operate.
New Mexico drought
The American West is experiencing a devastating drought, but no state is more parched than New Mexico. The entire state is officially in drought, and scientists, farmers and ranchers are trying to figure out how to cope with this new dry reality.
Wildlife managers are hauling water to elk herds in the mountains and blaming the drought for the unusually high number of deer and antelope killed on New Mexico’s highways, surmising that the animals are taking greater risks to find water.
Thousands of Albuquerque’s trees have died as homeowners under water restrictions can’t afford to water them, and in the state’s agricultural belt, low yields and crop failures are the norm. Livestock levels in many areas are about one-fifth of normal, and panicked ranchers face paying inflated prices for hay or moving or selling their herds.
The last three years have been the driest and warmest since record-keeping began here in 1895. Chuck Jones, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said even the state’s recent above-average monsoon rains “won’t make a dent” in the drought; deficits will require several years of normal rainfall to erase, should normal rain ever arrive.