Small grains in good condition
A frigid end to the first week of the month was felt Dec. 6 and 7, 2012 with negative wind chills in the Panhandle and temperatures in the teens and twenties throughout the state, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Oklahoma Field Office.
A record low temperature for December 6th in Oklahoma was recorded at -6 degrees in Kenton. Temperatures were unseasonably warm only a week later, in true Oklahoma fashion. A blizzard hit the Panhandle Dec. 19 with snowfall reports of up to 15 inches and drifts as high as 10 feet. Despite the dangerous conditions and road closings, the blizzard did bring snow cover for the Panhandle's wheat crop. The month ended with more unseasonably warm weather and a high of 82 degrees was recorded in Mangum and Cheyenne on New Year's Eve.
Precipitation for the month averaged 2.41 inches, which is above normal for December. The Southeast district led the way in precipitation, while the Central district had the least at 1.75 inches. Several precipitation events throughout the month have improved conditions for small grains in the ground, but more moisture is needed to recover from the long drought.
As of the Dec. 27, 2012 Drought Monitor, 85 percent of the state was still in a drought and much of western Oklahoma was rated in an extreme to exceptional drought. The lack of run-off meant pond levels were still low, which was a concern for livestock operators along with low quality hay. However, the mild temperatures for most of the month have benefitted cattle producers. Topsoil moisture conditions improved slightly with 67 percent rated adequate or surplus and 33 percent rated short to very short. Subsoil moisture conditions continued to be rated mostly short to very short, though 31 percent of the state was rated as adequate.
Conditions for all small grains were rated mostly good, while the canola condition was rated mostly good to fair. Wheat grazed was at 37 percent, three points above the previous year. Rye grazed was at 63 percent. Oats grazed was at 42percent, 27 points above the five-year average.
Pasture and range conditions were rated mostly poor to very poor. Conditions improved slightly from November 2012, but producers were looking to small grain grazing due to the limited availability cool season grasses.
Livestock conditions were rated mostly in the good to fair range with 26 percent rated poor to very poor. Operators are feeding hay and continue to sell cattle as needed. The availability of water continued to be a major concern as December 2012 rainfall was not enough to replenish critically low ponds. There were a few reports of cattle deaths due to the blizzard in the Panhandle.