Widespread rain across most of Oklahoma the past two months have mostly erased drought conditions that developed in the first quarter of the year. The latest Drought Monitor showed that Oklahoma had 10.98 percent of the state abnormally dry with 7.18 percent D1 (moderate drought) and with none of the state in more serious drought stages D2 to D4. The remaining dry area is located in southeast and south-central Oklahoma. Most of this region received significant rain this past week and will likely show further reduction in drought conditions. Oklahoma has 7 percent of pastures and ranges in poor to very poor condition with the percent in good to excellent condition improving to 59 percent with the recent rains.
For the entire U.S., the percent of the U.S. with no dry (D0) or drought (D1-D4) conditions in May have exceeded 80 percent for the first time since the Drought Monitor began publication in 2000. The area of the U.S. with D2 or worse drought conditions is less than 1.5 percent of the country, located in Georgia and Florida. No D4 conditions (exceptional drought) exist anywhere in the country at this time, a situation that has not happened since early 2011.
Nationwide, 10 percent of pastures and ranges are reported in poor or very poor condition with 28 percent in fair condition and 62 percent in good to excellent condition. California, which suffered so long with a multi-year drought, is reporting only 5 percent poor and very poor pastures with 70 percent in good to excellent condition. The worst conditions are in Florida, which has 58 percent of pastures in poor and very poor condition along with Georgia, reporting 29 percent poor or very poor pastures. The Cornbelt region reports less than three percent of pastures in poor or very poor conditions with ample moisture resulting in nearly 80 percent of pastures in good to excellent condition. However, excessively wet conditions have caused crop planting delays for field crops in the area.
U.S. hay stocks on May 1 were down 3 percent year over year despite having been up slightly year over year on December 1. Severe winter conditions in northern regions contributed to a drawdown in stocks by May 1 in states such as Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota and Wyoming. However, mild winter weather contributed to an increase in May 1 hay stocks in some southern regions including Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. Oklahoma hay stocks were up 3.4 percent year over year on May 1 and were at the highest level since 2008.
All in all, despite the current situation in Florida and southern Georgia, the U.S. has very favorable conditions for pasture, range and hay so far in 2017. This will help support cattle production and hold production costs down for cattle producers.