Time to revisit drought plans for the ranch

BROOKINGS – In light of the dry range conditions forecast for much of central and western South Dakota, cattle producers are encouraged to review their drought management plans.
"Areas in central South Dakota that were not in drought conditions last year, are experiencing dry conditions right now.
Kelly encouraged those cattle and forage producers entering their second season of drought conditions to continue with management actions taken last season and make necessary adjustments to this year’s drought plan if dry conditions persist.
South Dakota Drought Tool This is an excellent place to start if your ranch does not have a drought plan in place (Figure 3).
"For example, much of western South Dakota was experiencing drought conditions last year (Figure 5), therefore average precipitation will not be enough to recharge soil moisture this year," Kelly explained.
Kelly added that cattle producers in central South Dakota who had normal precipitation last year need to keep a very close eye on precipitation and grass conditions for the rest of this spring.
"Producers in these areas need to have a drought management action plan in place if dry conditions persist and a reduction in livestock numbers is needed," Kelly said.
"In the Northern Plains, where rangelands are dominated by cool-season grasses, spring precipitation – April, May and June – the best single predictor of vegetation production for the entire growing season," Gates said.
If rainfall forecast predictions are below normal for the next three months reductions in livestock numbers should be made."
"This reinforces the fact that cattle operations in areas with normal precipitation last year, do need to start thinking about how they can reduce their livestock numbers and have a plan in place, if the precipitation outlook for the rest of this spring is below normal," Kelly said.

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