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Below normal precip, cold temps increase supplemental feeding


Most of Montana received below normal moisture for the month ending Jan. 31, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Montana Field Office, Feb. 2.

Seeley Lake received the most monthly accumulated precipitation with 4.70 inches. Temperatures during the month of January were above normal. Highs were mostly in the 50s and 60s, and lows ranged from negative 30s to negative teens. Stanford had the high temperature of 67 degrees, and St. Marie had the low temperature of minus 38 degrees. Topsoil moisture adequate and surplus, at 81 percent, is slightly below last month's 82 percent but above last year's 32 percent. Subsoil moisture adequate and surplus is 67 percent, above last month's 66 percent and last year's 21 percent.

The weather outlook for Feb. 9 through Feb. 15 is for below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation for east of the continental divide and for below normal temperatures and near normal precipitation west of the divide. Normal temperatures for this period in Montana are highs in the middle 20s to the upper 30s and lows ranging from 5 degrees to the upper teens.

Thirty-six percent of pastures are closed for livestock grazing compared to 20 percent last year. Recent moisture and cold temperatures increased the need for supplemental feeding. Hay supplies are being used up fast with only about one-fourth of the pastures being open. Ranchers have started calving and lambing.

Winter wheat conditions declined since last month, but are above last year with 68 percent good to excellent compared to 32 percent last year. Snow cover declined from the previous month with snow cover rated mostly fair to good. High winds and variable temperatures across most of the state caused less damage to winter wheat compared to last year.

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