Much of Montana still lingers in drought
MONTANA LIVING — The majority of Montana received above average precipitation in December according to the Mountain Regional Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.
Increased precipitation improved drought conditions slightly. According to the US Drought Monitor, 7.4 percent of the state was drought free and 3.3 percent of the state was abnormally dry. Moderate drought was found in 3 percent of the state, down from 7.2 percent at the end of November. Severe drought was found in 26.6 percent of the state, up slightly from last month’s 26.0 percent.
Extreme drought was found in 39.6 percent of the state, up from last month’s 33.7 percent. Exceptional drought was found in 20.1 percent of the state, down from 33.1 percent at the end of November. Northern areas of the state experienced below average temperatures, while in many southern areas, temperatures ran above normal.
Snow cover was sparse in Teton County. In Phillips County, hay supplies were short and more snow was needed to fill depleted reservoirs. The snow that was received benefited damaged wheat fields. Good amounts of snow were received in Valley county.
Topsoil moisture conditions were 44 percent very short, 33 percent short and 23 percent adequate, an improvement from 79 percent very short, 17 percent short and 4 percent adequate on the previous report.
Subsoil moisture conditions also improved to 47 percent very short, 36 percent short, and 17 percent adequate. On the previous report, subsoil moisture conditions were 92 percent very short to short and 8 percent adequate to surplus. Snow cover was rated 52 percent good to excellent. Winter wheat was rated 16 percent very poor, 55 percent poor, 17 percent fair, and 12 percent good.
Pasture and range conditions improved from the previous report with 56 percent rated very poor compared to 73 percent rated very poor at the end of November.
Livestock producers were providing supplemental feed at higher rates than normal, with 95 percent of cattle and calves and 99 percent of sheep and lambs being fed, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service of the USDA.