March 24, 2016

An easy winter may make a tough spring

 

By Jerry W. Kram

"We are dry," said Mountrail County Agriculture Agent Jim Hennessy.

While this year’s unusual lack of snow and warm temperatures have made for an easy calving season, the lack of moisture could be tough on fields and pasture. Combined with wheat prices that are at six year lows and cattle prices that are at a three year low, farmers and ranchers in Sakakawea Country are facing some tough choices as spring approaches.

"If we don’t get some spring rains we will be in the hurtbag as far as getting crops started," Hennessy said. "Usually we get our spring rains, but what rain we get will be used right away to get the crops started and stands established. Things will dry out quickly because we don’t have any base (moisture) to fall back on."

Hennessy thinks area pastures will green up early in the spring, but if the area doesn’t get much additional rain the grass will go dormant quickly. That could leave area cattle on short rations by the end of summer. He added that while ranchers have had a couple of good hay crops in a row, supplies are thin in much of the area.

"I’ve had a lot of calls from ranchers looking for extra hay," Hennessy said. "There doesn’t seem to be a lot of it left in the country. Most of it has already been sold. Some folks have a little bit of carry over, but that carry over is valuable. They may need that carry over to get through next year.


The Weather Network