Western Nebraska cattle producers should prepare for potential drought conditions in light of recent below-average precipitation and above-average temperatures.

As of April 25, average precipitation year to date for the Nebraska Panhandle is only 50 percent of normal, according to the precipitation summary at the UNL Cropwatch website (http://cropwatch.unl.edu/web/cropwatch/cropwatchprecipitation). These dry conditions, coupled with the above-normal temperatures that have accompanied them have resulted in soil profiles that are moisture depleted.

The long-range predictions, should they come true, could prove to be challenging as well. Both the 30- and 90-day forecasts from the National Weather Service are predicting above normal temperatures for this region. In light of these circumstances it is prudent for ranchers to begin to plan for how they will deal with these dry conditions should they continue and become a drought.