Pasture conditions improve sharply from 2012
by Laura Lloyd
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WASHINGTON — The percentage of pasture in good-to-excellent condition in the lower 48 states as of Sept. 15 averaged 34%, compared with only 19% as of Sept. 17, 2012, a severe drought year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its most recent Crop Progress report.
Weather in the 2013 growing season has been significantly wetter and cooler on average than in 2012. While there was a spate of hot, dry weather in early September, forecasts for precipitation in the Corn Belt recently moved soybean futures prices lower.
The overall weather picture this summer has indicated that drought conditions, though still fairly widespread in the western half of the United States, have significantly mitigated from a year ago, leading to better soil moisture and improved pasture conditions, which has contributed to reduced demand for supplemental feed for livestock, including corn and millfeed.
Despite scattered states where pasture conditions deteriorated compared with a year ago, many regions have experienced sharp gains in conditions from last year. Among those with improved good-to-excellent ratings in mid-September 2013 compared with the same time in 2012 were: Kansas (31% vs. 2%), Kentucky (67% vs. to 24%), Michigan (43% vs. 18%), Montana (45% vs. 6%), Nebraska (26% vs. 0%), New Mexico (25% vs. 4%), North Dakota (60% vs. 10%) and South Dakota (44% vs. 4%), the U.S.D.A. said
Among states where good-to-excellent percentages deteriorated by mid-September from last year were Arizona (22% vs. 33%), Louisiana (39% vs. 63%), Oregon (16% vs. 22%), Texas (12% vs. 17%) and Washington (34% vs. 48%), the U.S.D.A. said.