Drought Update

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
While the sunshine, warm temperatures and wind last weekend were all a welcome respite from our dreary winter, it was also a gentle reminder of a very serious issue; we are still in drought conditions throughout much of Oklahoma. This includes those of us here in Payne County. While the drought has not received much publicity as of late, that does not lessen its ongoing impacts.

If you have not done so recently, I would suggest you consider a good thorough irrigation if anyone of the following points applies:
  • Trees showing decline over the last few years. This could include limb loss, premature leaf drop, or just smaller (or fewer) leaves than normal.
  • Trees planted within the last three-four years. These tress are likely still struggling to fully establish a root system, having lived their entire life in drought conditions.
  • Any ornamental landscape plantings that were installed last fall.
  • Turfgrass established last year. This includes sprigs, sod or seed.
  • Garden areas that might have received a recent application of compost or fertilizer. This is especially true for those gardens where a soil pH correction is being made with an application of lime or sulfur.
  • Areas that have received a recent herbicide application. Pre-emergent herbicides must be watered in properly to be effective.

It would also be a good idea to check the moisture level on your compost piles. Moisture is a critical component of the composting process.

Oklahoma Drought History
While none of us knows what the future holds, when thinking about the drought, it is sure worth a look back at the recent history of Oklahoma. As you can see from the accompanying graph (click image to enlarge in new window), our droughts tend to run in approximately ten year cycles. We are only four years into this one.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at
keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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