Drought Conditions Continue to Impact Rangeland in the Panhandle

Drought Conditions Continue to Impact Rangeland in the Panhandle

April 11, 2008 

US Drought Monitor
U.S. Drought Monitor, released April 10, 2008. For more data and U.S. drought map, visit the Drought Monitor Web site at http://drought.unl.edu/dm.

Drought conditions continue to plague the Nebraska Panhandle. As of April 7 year to date precipitation is on average less than 50% of normal. Season long grass production on native range in the Nebraska Panhandle is highly correlated with the depth of available soil moisture and total precipitation from March through May.

Producers need to monitor precipitation levels over the next 45 days and, if dry conditions continue, prepare a plan to reduce stocking rates to avoid further damage to already severely stressed rangeland.

Several years of extended drought conditions have taken their toll on native range and pasture conditions, reducing plant vigor. Even if abundant precipitation is received in late April and May, producers should consider delaying turn-out of cattle onto pasture two to three weeks to allow for new leaves, as well as roots and shoots, to develop in plants that have been stressed by years of dry conditions. Delaying turn-out can result in a 10% to 20% increase in season long forage production.

Aaron Berger
Extension Educator
Kimball, Banner, and Cheyenne Counties