New Mexico farmers faced with early dry spell

dry plants

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – As drought creeps back into New Mexico, farmers are faced with finding solutions to keep their crops watered.

We are only a few weeks into spring and experts say a good portion of New Mexico is experiencing abnormally dry or, in some cases, a moderate drought.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Ronchetti said it’s not unusual for New Mexico to be in a drought like this by mid-March, but this year is different.

Ronchetti said despite the fact that the state is experiencing a strong El Nino – which typically calls for a good amount of precipitation – we’ve gone dry for the better part of two to two and a half months.

“This year, if you take it as a full year, we’ve done very well with El Nino but it’s the past several months when we expected huge snow pack to get virtually nothing out of it. That’s the disappointing part and it makes this El Nino pretty unique,” Ronchetti said.

The United States Drought Monitor says only a small percentage of the state is completely drought free. That is why farmers need to be extra careful and mindful of the water they have on the farm, which is what Red Tractor Farm in the South Valley has been forced to do. By switching irrigation methods, they’ve become less dependent on ineffective measures of watering.

“We’ve been implementing more and more use of drip tape irrigation which is like 98-percent water conservation effective. It drips water directly on to plant’s roots,” said Casey Holland, Farm Manager of Red Tractor Farm.

Fortunately, experts are hopeful that precipitation could be in the forecast starting the end of this week and lasting the next couple of weeks.

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