It has been three weeks since we had our last rain in SW Nebraska and we are seeing all dryland crops showing signs of drought. Reference evapotranspiration (ET) in the Upper Republican NRD ranged from 1.6 inches in Perkins Co to 2.9 inches in SW Dundy Co. This means that crops in SW Dundy Co used about 1.5 inches of water more than in Perkins Co. See image for more details on ET and rain data as well as crop growth stages and their water use coefficients for this period.
According to US Drought monitor none of the Counties in SW Nebraska are in abnormal drought, which can means that these conditions are (believe it or not) normal in SW Nebraska this time of the year. According to 30-year weather data, average August precipitation and ET are 2.50 and 9 inches, respectively. This means that the area had the August weather conditions in very close proximity to long term average.
We had very good growing conditions in May, June, July and August, so crops used all that water and heat to produce large biomass and increase yield potential. Rain is much needed to keep up with high water demands during the grain filling period in September, otherwise we will have to be satisfied with the mediocre dryland yields at the end of the year.