The Noble Foundation has launched a new online resource to assist farmers and ranchers who are enduring one of the worst droughts since the Dust Bowl.

Noble Foundation agricultural consultants have developed www.noble.org/drought, a Web page that will serve as a central repository for information to assist agricultural producers in managing their properties and resources throughout this difficult situation.

“This is a once-in-a-generation drought,” said Billy Cook, senior vice president and director of the Agricultural Division. “We haven’t seen this type of heat and lack of precipitation since the record-setting drought of the mid-1950s or even the Dust Bowl. Lloyd Noble established the Noble Foundation to assist producers after he witnessed the devastating effects of the Dust Bowl. Decades later, we’re equipped with the knowledge and experience to help farmers and ranchers successfully endure this drought.”

Information for the special Web page was developed by the Noble Foundation’s agricultural consultants, who have been inundated with hundreds of calls concerning drought management since the beginning of July. Additional information was gathered from university researchers and agricultural experts from around the country. The Web page will be updated as long as the drought persists.

The Web page will provide countless aspects of drought management from safeguarding pastures and destocking to tax implications and wildlife concerns.  “This is a comprehensive resource that should answer many of the questions that come with struggling through this drought,” said Hugh Aljoe, consultation program manager for the Noble Foundation. “This is reliable information that will help farmers and ranchers meet their specific challenges. Of course, the Noble Foundation consultants are always here to help in person, too.”

While the drought stretches across 14 states from Florida to Arizona, the three states experiencing the worst conditions are Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. At the end of July, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared 74 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties a natural disaster area. USDA had already declared all 254 counties in Texas a natural disaster area by June.

According to the United States Drought Monitor, the entire state of Oklahoma is in at least a moderate drought; more than 75 percent of the state is considered either in a severe or extreme drought; and 42 percent is rated in exceptional drought, the highest level possible. Exceptional drought is defined as widespread crop/pasture loss and water shortages creating emergencies.

Comparatively, only about 5 percent of Oklahoma faced nothing more than moderate drought conditions at this same time last year. Since 2000, Oklahoma has experienced “exceptional” drought conditions only two other years (2006 and 2008). In both instances, less than 20 percent of the state was affected.

South of the Red River, Texas has more than 91 percent of its state in extreme or exceptional drought. Texas climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon has been cited as saying that if the drought continues until September, this could be the worst drought in state history since recordkeeping began in 1895.