Extreme drought covers 44.8 percent of state

Below average precipitation coupled with hot temperatures and windy conditions led to the further decline of soil moisture levels for the week ending May 13, as well as pasture and range grass availability, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Mountain Regional Field Office, New Mexico. The United States Drought Monitor released on May 10 showed that exceptional drought (D4) continued to affect 10.6 percent of the state. In addition, extreme drought (D3) was reportedly covering 44.8 percent of the state. Overall, conditions rated abnormally dry or worse continued to blanket 99.9 percent of New Mexico. Topsoil moisture levels were reported as 8 percent adequate to surplus, compared with 15 percent last week, 42 percent last year, and a 5-year average of 32 percent. Spring fieldwork was ongoing, with row crops being planted as conditions allowed. In certain locations, cotton and peanuts were only being planted on irrigated land. Even so, there was lingering concern regarding a potential shortage of irrigation water. Precipitation was recorded at just 2 out of 43 reporting weather stations—Navajo Whiskey Creek and Chama, where 0.10 and 0.03 inch fell, respectively. Average temperatures ranged from 2 to 16 degrees above normal. Freeze damage in all crops was reported as 4 percent light and 3 percent moderate, compared with 2 percent light and 2 percent moderate last week. There was no hail damage reported. Wind damage in all crops was reported as 26 percent light, 17 percent moderate, and 2 percent severe, compared with 30 percent light, 21 percent moderate, and 3 percent severe last week.