Producers cope with drought reduced feed supplies
The month of February 2013 saw mixed temperatures with an average snow depth at the end of the month of 7.0 inches across the state, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, South Dakota Field Office.
As the winter season progresses, producers continue coping with drought reduced feed supplies and stock water supplies. Livestock were doing well in most areas of the state. County road conditions in the state were rated at 94 percent open, 5 percent difficult and 1 percent closed. Township road conditions were rated at 91 percent open, 7 percent difficult and 2 percent closed. Major activities last month included moving snow, caring for livestock, hauling grain and repairing equipment.
A more active weather pattern during February brought several more storm systems across the state including large events in from central to northeast South Dakota on Feb. 10 and 11 and south central to southeast part of the state on Feb. 21 and 22, according to the State Climate Office of South Dakota. Several smaller systems occurred across the state during other parts of the month. Current snow conditions are deepest in the northeast and largely non-existent in the west. The amount of snow and snow cover greatly impacted the temperature pattern leading to colder than average temperatures over most of the snow covered areas, while the non-snow-covered areas were warmer than average.
Precipitation was heaviest across eastern South Dakota with widespread amounts of 0.8 inches to over 2.0 inches in the far northeast. Most of the west received less than half an inch with the far northwest receiving less than 0.1 inches. Webster received the most precipitation for the month at 2.36 inches of liquid. Several other northeastern stations had over 1.5 inches. Of the northwest stations with low precipitation amounts, Bison was the lowest with 0.03 inches. The additional precipitation in the northeast did lead to a one category improvement in the U.S. Drought Monitor because of the larger liquid totals, which should produce some run-off. Most of the current snow will do little to change soil moisture conditions. Temperatures were heavily influenced by the snow cover. Colder average temperatures and coldest daily temperatures occurred over the northeast where monthly temperatures were 2 to 4 F below average. In the northwestern part of the state temperatures were 3 to 6 F above average. The highest daily temperature was 59 F at Pickstown. The coldest temperature was -31 F at Aberdeen. Soil temperatures were generally in the 20s to low 30s. Warmest temperatures were in the south and west. Parkston was the highest at 32 F; Aberdeen was the coldest at 21 F.
Concern continues with some producers about the lack of snow cover protection for the winter wheat. Winter wheat condition was rated at 20 percent very poor, 46 percent poor, 31 percent fair, and 3 percent good. Snow cover for winter wheat was rated at 56 percent poor, 42 percent adequate and 2 percent excellent. Alfalfa snow cover was rated at 38 percent poor, 55 percent adequate and 7 percent excellent.
Feed supplies were rated at 18 percent very short, 35 percent short and 47 percent adequate to surplus, while last year at this time feed supplies were rated at 99 percent adequate to surplus. Stock water supplies were rated at 22 percent very short, 32 percent short and 46 percent adequate. Cattle conditions were rated at 74 percent good to excellent, 24 percent fair and 2 percent poor. Cattle deaths rated at 28 percent below average and 72 percent average for the month. Newborn calf deaths rated 18 percent below average and 82 percent average. Calving was at 9 percent complete as of Feb. 24. Sheep conditions were rated at 83 percent good to excellent condition, 15 percent fair and 2 percent poor, with sheep and lamb deaths rated 8 percent below average and 92 percent average. Lambing was at 25 percent complete as of Feb. 24.