Heavy rains in the eastern half of Oklahoma have improved drought conditions in that portion of the state, but USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says overall, the U.S. pasture and rangeland condition is getting worse.
“We continue to see significantly stressed rangeland and pasture across that southern half of the high plains. Looking at state level numbers, we see almost half, 48% of the pastures and rangelands rated very poor to poor in Oklahoma.”
It’s 44% in Texas, and 36% in Colorado. According to the National Integrated Drought Information Systems, it’s not just the lack of rain, but also strong winds and low humidity that have led to broad deterioration from the Texas Panhandle and northeastern New Mexico northeast into the central Plains. These areas received less than 10% of normal precipitation during the last 90 days and generally under half of normal precipitation since late autumn.
“That is the core, 3-4 state drought area that encompasses the southern half of the high plains, very heavily into cattle production, so that is a concern,” Rippey added.
Unirrigated winter wheat in the Texas Panhandle and adjoining areas is almost a total loss because of the drought conditions.
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