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Drought conditions worsened in much of northwest Oklahoma in the past week.

The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows all of Garfield County in the moderate drought category. The week before, nearly all of the county was listed as abnormally dry.

Grant and Kingfisher counties also are listed in moderate drought.

West of Enid, the situation is even worse. All of Woodward County, most of Woods County and large parts of Alfalfa and Major counties now are listed in severe drought, the next category up from moderate drought.

The Mesonet weather-recording station at Breckinridge recorded just .05 of an inch of precipitation for January, although Friday’s light precipitation had not been recorded.

That followed December, which saw just .76 of an inch of precipitation. Most of that rainfall, .54 of an inch, was recorded on Dec. 25.

The Lahoma Mesonet site has recorded even less precipitation, just .03 of an inch in January, following .61 of an inch in December.

The good news, at least for area farmers, is that most crops, including wheat and canola, are in a dormant stage since it is winter, said Jeff Bedwell, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Major County.

“Water use by crops is at its lowest,” he said.

However, the dry conditions mean “we’re not building a water reserve” for the plants root system, he said, when the crops come out of dormancy in spring.

“We really need moisture continuously,” Bedwell said.

Dry conditions also could impact crops in the spring by worsening insect pressures, he said. Wetter weather would allow natural predators for the insects to flourish, while dry conditions favor insects.

Rick Nelson, OCES ag educator for Garfield County, said many producers are moving cattle off their wheat pastures now, which is more than a month earlier than normal, because of the lack of forage.

The lack of rain has kept the wheat from growing, so cattle have nothing to graze, he said.

Normally, cattle are moved off wheat pastures around the first of March, when wheat reaches the first hollow-stem stage, he said.

Nelson, too, is worried about what could happen when wheat and canola come out of dormancy if there is not some rain before then. The plants will need the moisture to reproduce and grow, he said, and if there is not enough rain before the first part of March, it will have a negative impact.

“It’s not hurt yet,” he said, “but we’re coming up on a critical time in terms of the reproductive cycle.”

Homeowners, too, should be aware of the conditions. It’s good now to give trees “a good soaking drink once a month” if we don’t get rain, Bedwell said.

The Enid area could be in for winter precipitation in the coming days.

National Weather Service is calling for a chance of snow Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The chance Sunday is only 20 percent, but that increases to 50 percent Monday night and 60 percent Tuesday.

NWS does not have any amount predictions yet, but shows northwest Oklahoma — including Enid — in the area that likely will see accumulating snow Monday and Tuesday.

Mike Honigsberg, certified director of Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management, said on his online blog at gcem.org that Enid has a good chance of some sort of winter precipitation.

“I wouldn’t panic right now concerning these systems, but I would prepare for some winter activity,” he said. “Overall, we will be OK.”

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