The following rundown on Oklahoma pasture conditions, by livestock expert Derrell Peel, is very encouraging regarding Southern Plains moisture supplies ahead of winter. This is one of the most optimistic such summaries Dr. Peel has written in the past few years -- no surprise.
Drought conditions, which advanced sharply in the late summer and fall, have decreased significantly with recent rains in Oklahoma. The latest Drought Monitor, dated October 27, showed only 2.79% of Oklahoma with drought rated at D2 and zero in D3 and D4, the worst drought categories. This was a significant improvement from the week prior. Despite rains in other parts of the state, the north-central region of the state, an important wheat production area, had gone nearly 50 consecutive days with less than one-quarter inch precipitation. This region received up to an inch of rain as part of statewide rain coverage late last week. Additional improvement in the reported drought conditions is expected this week. Last week's crop progress report showed that 85% of Oklahoma wheat was planted with 62% emerged. Both of those figures are slightly lower than the five-year average for that date. Recent rains will result in rapid wheat development, and some wheat will be ready for grazing soon.
In the final report for the growing season, Oklahoma range and pasture conditions are rated about average for this time of year compared to non-drought years, with 78% of pasture rated fair to excellent. In many cases, pastures still have some green and quality is good. Estimated 2015 total hay supplies in Oklahoma are 7.3 million tons, the third-largest annual hay supply ever for the state, and the largest since 2007. It appears that Oklahoma is in good shape with respect to feed and forage supplies and is ready for winter.
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