Thanksgiving week was wet across many parts of the country and included snow, freezing rain and rain. Oklahoma and Texas straddled the freezing line with a wide range of impacts in a region known for highly variable weather. South and east of the freezing line, Southeastern Oklahoma and northern Texas were the epicenter of heavy rain that totaled up to one foot in parts of the region. Flooding once again impacted an area that received record rainfall earlier in the year. The band of heavy rain extended from southwest Texas north and east through the Great Lakes, covering the central and eastern Corn Belt and more.
The moisture this week should remove lingering dry conditions in the heartland and the lower Mississippi valley. The northern Plains and Rocky Mountain regions also received significant moisture in the form of snow and freezing rain. As a result, the eastern three-quarters of the country are in very good shape as far as moisture is concerned; with no significant drought areas across most of the country. The far west and Pacific Northwest also received some moisture in the form of rain or snow at higher elevations. Severe drought conditions continue in the region but the recent moisture should slow or halt drought development in the region with mountain snowpack increasing the potential for improved conditions next spring.
The wet and freezing conditions are impacting cattle in the Southern Plains. Across much of Western Oklahoma, central Texas and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, moisture arrived as freezing rain. Most cattle in the region did not have winter hair coats and the wet hides and cold temperatures that followed are having nutritional and performance impacts on both feedlot and grazing cattle. Depending on the weather that follows, the cold and/or muddy conditions across both the Southern Plains and Midwest feedlot regions may temper fed cattle gains and weights in coming weeks.
The driest winter wheat areas of Oklahoma in the north-central part of the state received two to four inches of rain last week. This is the first widespread abundant moisture in the region this fall and, along with warmer temperatures forecast for later this week, should prompt rapid wheat growth. Though wheat forage has developed slower this fall than earlier projected, there may still be demand in December and perhaps after January 1 for stocker cattle for wheat grazing; especially for producers looking at grazing out wheat due to low wheat prices. The cold, wet and muddy (flooded) conditions right now are creating nutritional and management headaches for stocker and cow-calf producers across the state and may impact the final couple of weeks of fall calf marketings in early December.