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"They're pretty much shot," Davison said. "It's as bad as you can get. It's the worst of the worst."
"When you watch the land die, that kind of stuff is no fun," Knisley said.
"It's just getting worse and worse. These are really dry conditions," said Mark Coca, vegetation management specialist at Nevada BLM.
"There's zero flow," Hodges said.
The situation in Lovelock, Davison agreed, stands out.
"It is a grief to be a farmer without water and not be able to plant or harvest or be involved with what you like to do in life," said Knisley, 50 and a third generation Lovelock farmer and rancher.
"It's the worst that I've seen, without a doubt," said Jay Davison, a Fallon based crops specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
which can hold 200,000 acre feet of water when full, now holds only about 9,500 acre feet. What little water it holds is reserved to try and keep the reservoir's fish alive. If any water were released, Hodges said, it would simply soak into parched soil.
be four or five at most.
While spring rains helped improve a dismal scenario for cattle grazing on public land, the situation remains serious, and "conditions have stressed all resources on the public lands making grazing throughout most of Nevada unsustainable at permitted levels," according to a May 16 statement issued by the Bureau Miu Miu Shiny Calf Top Handle Bag of Land Management.
BLM has asked some ranchers to voluntarily halt grazing in some hard hit areas and more decisions affecting grazing on public land are likely later this summer, Coca said, adding that similar problems exist in other western states hit hard by drought.
Tracy and Dan Knisley in one of the fields dry and devoid of any alfalfa south of Lovelock on May 28, 2014.(Photo: Marilyn Newton/RGJ)In a field where wheat grew last year, there's now little but stubble and dirt. There's no water to allow planting and like many farmers in the Lovelock area one of the places hit hardest by a drought now three years in duration Knisley is forced to leave fields bare.
"The main issue is stock water," Torell said. "We can have all the grass we want but that water just isn't out there."
Dan and Tracy Knisley, Lovelock farmers and owners of County Equipment in their office May 28, 2104.(Photo: Marilyn Newton/RGJ)
To growers in Lovelock, a 45 percent irrigation allotment would be decidedly welcome.
Water is limited to the extent that directors of the Truckee Carson Irrigation District voted in May to cut water allotments to 45 percent of the normal amount of irrigation waer provided, a reduction Davison said will result in a substantial impact to agricultural production in the area.
The country's most arid state is no stranger to drought. Its farmers and ranchers are no strangers to dealing with it. Still, many agree this event stands out and stands out in a big way.
"Everyone's going to be shutting down about three months earlier than normal," Davison said. "We're normally irrigating until October. If we get to mid July this year, that will be pretty good."
That's because the Humboldt River, the sole source of irrigation water to Lovelock growers, is flowing at a trickle. After receiving an 80 percent allotment in Prada Quilted Nylon
On a normal year, Davison said, alfalfa farmers in the Fallon area might manage to irrigate fields nine times. This year, there will Prada Cahier Snake
High beef prices help some, but lack of forage is forcing many ranchers to feed livestock with costly hay, said Ron Torell, an Elko rancher who is president of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association. Due to drought, most ranching operations have been forced to reduce their numbers of brood cows by 20 to 30 percent over the last three years, Torell said.
2012, the first year of the current drought, allotments were cut to only 10 percent in 2013. This year there is none.
Nevada farmers watching the land die
Agriculture, a mainstay Nevada industry deeply rooted in history, is feeling some of the biggest impacts from a drought many call historic in its intensity. It's being felt at fields tilled by farmers like Knisley. It's being felt on the open range, where cattle crunch across a dry landscape in search of limited forage and scarce drinking water.
Seen through heat waves a dust storm blows behind this farm west of Lovelock Wednesday May 28, 2014.(Photo: Marilyn Newton/RGJ)
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"To us, that would be a godsend," said Bennie Hodges, secretary treasurer of the Pershing County Water Conservation District. "That's how bad it is."
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