Jerry Volesky, Range Specialist
The 2022 growing season continues to see dry conditions at the Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab (GSL) and across most of the state. While April and May precipitation was near normal at GSL, rainfall during June was only 28% of the long-term average (Table 1). Through July, the cumulative forage year precipitation (since last October) was also below the long-term average and previous year (Figure 1).
From our annual mid-June sampling of upland range production at GSL, we found current year forage production at that time to be 899 lb/acre (Table 2). This is below the long-term average for that date. Most of the difference came from lower production of warm-season grasses. The dry June and cooler temperature in May likely contributed to that lower warm-season grass production.
The Grassland Production Forecast (Grass-Cast), a model for the Central and Northern Great Plains does predict that 2022 range and pasture production will be below normal in most parts of Nebraska (Figure 2). The northern states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana, will have significantly greater range production compared to 2021 when they were in severe to exceptional levels of drought. Additional information on Grass-Cast can be found at https://grasscast.unl.edu/