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Blizzard brought needed moisture


Oklahoma

A much anticipated storm system rolled through Oklahoma Feb. 24 to 26, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Oklahoma Field Office, March 4.

It brought blizzard conditions and snow totals from 12 to 18 inches in northwestern Oklahoma. Thousands of people were without power and highways were closed due to blowing snow. Most of the state received some snow, but southern and eastern Oklahoma received mostly rainfall, without the hazardous conditions and freezing temperatures. The U.S. Drought Monitor showed significant improvements from the snow cover and rain received the last two weeks. The entire state is still in a severe to exceptional drought, but the portion of the state rated with exceptional drought fell from 41.6 percent the week prior, down to 11.8 percent as of Feb. 26. The drought actually worsened in Cimarron County, however, which missed the moisture from the last storm. Precipitation totals from the week ending March 3 averaged just under an inch for the state and as high as 1.41 inches in the North Central district. The cooler temperatures in northwestern Oklahoma have allowed the snow to melt slowly, so all moisture has not yet been recorded. Small grain and canola conditions showed improvements from the recent moisture. However, these improvements may be short-lived without reinforcing precipitation. This February ended as the 13th wettest February on record according to the Oklahoma Mesonet. However, precipitation since Sept. 1 was still below normal in all districts. Topsoil moisture conditions continued to improve and were rated 60 percent adequate, up from 43 percent adequate the previous week. Subsoil moisture conditions also improved, but were still rated mostly short to very short with just 12 percent of the state rated as adequate. There were only 3.5 days suitable for fieldwork on average across the state, due to the heavy snow.

Conditions for all small grains and canola improved from the previous week. Wheat, canola and oats were rated mostly fair to poor, while rye was rated mostly good to fair. The wheat crop has begun jointing, with 11 percent complete by March 3, compared to 22 percent complete this time last year. Oat planting continued with spring oats and was 70 percent complete by the end of the week.

Seedbed preparation has begun for row crops in some areas, though progress has been limited by multiple snow storms over several weeks. Corn seedbed preparation was complete on one quarter of the acres and sorghum seedbed preparation was 15 percent complete by March 3. Soybean seedbed preparation was only five percent complete by week's end, six points below the previous year. Seedbed preparation of cotton was 24 percent complete by the end of the week.

Conditions of pasture and range improved only slightly and continued to be rated mostly poor to very poor. Though topsoil moisture had improved, low temperatures for most of the week did not allow for much growth. Livestock conditions were still rated mostly good to fair as operators continued to supplement and feed hay to herds. Stock pond and creek levels benefitted from the storms, but run-off was limited in some areas and remains a concern for livestock operators.

Date: 3/11/2013



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