Abnormally dry and hot conditions this year have launched an extreme to exceptional drought across southern Colorado.
According to the Colorado Water and Availability Task Force, 62 of the 64 counties in Colorado have received Primary Secretarial Disaster Designations for crop loss. The two counties not included in this statistic are Delta and San Juan Counties.
Farmers and ranchers said they are feeling the impact, with one rancher comparing his land to a tinderbox.
“In the 25 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen it this dry, never seen it this bad,” said Kevin Hylan, owner of a ranch in Peyton.
Hylan said his neighbors have struggled with their livestock because of the heat and drought. Hylan said it is partly because there is not enough grass growing for the animals to graze on, and partly due to rising costs of feed and hay.
“It makes it really tough for folks to keep at it, you know? It’s very dry out there,” he said.
Todd Smith said he sells tomato plants at local farmers markets, which is becoming difficult because of the heat. He said the supplier of his tomatoes has noticed his plants have only recently started growing.
“His plants just quit flowering and have just now started re-flowering. So, in his opinion it was too hot this year,” said Smith.
According to others participating in the Acacia Park Farmers Market, not all farms are struggling.
“Actually the drought hasn’t really impacted us,” said Andrew Vanhoesen with Miller Farms based out of Platteville, Colo.
Vanhoesen said Miller Farms crops are still producing plenty of fruits and vegetables, adding that the only crop that is suffering slightly is the field corn.
“The only thing that has really affected us is our field corn; but it’s actually turning around and it’s becoming a really good crop,” said Vanhoesen.