Jerry Volesky  Jerry Volesky, Range Scientist

The 2021 growing season continues to see dry conditions at GSL and across many parts of the state. At GSL, monthly precipitation during the critical months of April, May, June, and July was below the long-term average (Table 1). Through July, the cumulative forage year precipitation (since last October) was also below the long-term average (see below). 

GSL Precipitation                              Cumulative Precip at GSL

     Table 1. GSL Precipitation in Inches                                         Cumulative Precipitation at GSL

From our annual mid-June sampling of upland range production at GSL, we found current year forage production at that time to be 1,002 lb/acre (Table 2). This is slightly below the long-term average for that date. Most of the difference came from lower production of warm-season grasses. Annual upland range production (measured in late August) in the central Sandhills averages about 1850 lb/acre. It is likely that the 2021 annual production will be markedly lower than average given the lower precipitation amounts in late June and through July.

Forage Production

Table 2. Mid-June forage production (lb/acre)

The Grassland Production Forecast (Grass-Cast), a model for the Central and Northern Great Plains, does predict the 2021 range and pasture production will be below normal in many parts of Nebraska (see left from July 13, 2021). South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, which of course, are currently in severe to exceptional drought levels will have significantly reduced pasture and range production. Additional information on Grass-Cast can be found at

 2021 Predicted percent change