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Drought returns in central Nebraska

Corn crop near Grand Island in July, 2017 (NTV News)

Rain brings a little relief, but for many farmer – the heat is on, as drought makes a comeback in Nebraska.

A trip to the county fair means the pigs get washed down. The Knuth family of Grand Island family gets a break from the heat that has gripped their farm.

“Very hot and dry,” Kevin Knuth said.

He’s thankful most of his corn and soybeans are irrigated, but drought is taking a toll on dryland crops.

“It's starting to look pretty tough. If we don't get rain soon, it'll probably be over,” he said.

Showers this week brought a few drops, but not much. And that’s the case across much of the region.

Meteorologist Mike Moritz of the National Weather Service said, “Your neighbor might be the lucky one, one night. You might be the lucky one the next night, but the widespread rainfall, a 2, 3, 4 inch soaker for most of the region really doesn't appear to be in the cards.”

Moritz said the last thing farmers need is a heat wave with no rain, but that may be what’s coming next week.

He said “We're probably looking at the warmest week of the summer season so far.”

It follows the second driest June on record in Nebraska.

Things have changed quickly. After a wet spring, the state was drought free. Now, two-thirds of the state is on the verge of drought.

Moritz said, “We’ve seen some incremental creep of drought back to Nebraska. We did okay coming out of the spring and summer months, pretty good on subsoil moisture, but we're short a lot of areas on topsoil moisture.”

Farmers and meteorologists agree it looks like a repeat of 2016.

Knuth said, “This year's very much like last year.”

USDA crop reports show corn and soybeans conditions trending downward. Fewer crops rated excellent, and more are rated fair.

Irrigation certainly helps, but farmers hoping nature does its part.

“Rain would be really nice,” Knuth said. “A good soaker.”

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