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Ranchers are hoping for more rain

By Jay Polk , Weekend Meteorologist/Reporter, jay.polk@krdo.com
Published On: Jun 23 2014 07:40:11 PM CDT

Not enough rain in the plains means fewer cattle and higher beef prices for everyone.

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo -

Despite recent rains, almost half of Colorado is still in some category of drought.

The hardest hit area is in Southeastern Colorado and it's hitting ranchers there hard.  But other ranchers are being affected.

Reeves Brown owns the 3-R ranch near Beulah.  In his more than 30 years, he's seen some droughts.

"(2002) is an example of what can happen," he said.

But the last couple of years are unlike anything that he's ever seen.

"We've had these three years back to back," he said.

And what he's experienced in the shadow of the Wet Mountains is nothing compared to what has been happening in the southeastern plains.

Tom Magnuson from the National Weather Service said, "it is a long-term drought and it has lasted longer than in the 1930s."

The ground there is even more brown than it is on the east end of the 3-R Ranch.

Brown said, "two inches of moisture is all that we've had on this lower end."

The long-running drought has forced ranchers to reduce the size of their herds.

"We're about two-thirds of where we'd like to be and normally are," said Brown.

And in other parts of the nation, some ranchers have sold off their entire herds.  But if the forecast for the next few months holds, there is hope for farmers and ranchers in Southern Colorado.

"The three month outlook for precipitation favors slightly above normal precipitation," said Magnuson.

In the months ahead, Brown is hoping that the three r's in 3-R stand for rain, rain and more rain.

The National Weather Service says that it will take several inches of rain to eliminate the drought in Southeastern Colorado.

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