This year (2012) set a new record on low pasture and rangeland conditions in the U.S. The USDA’s final condition report was issued the last week of October showing 54% of pastures and rangeland in poor to very poor condition. Year to year, that is a record. It was 1995 when statistics were first recorded.
“We had never been above 52% and that occurred during the drought that hit a lot of the western U.S. back in 2002 and 2003,” says USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey, who says the peak of the drought, for five weeks in late August and early September saw 59 percent of the nation’s pastures and rangelands in poor to very poor shape.
As far as the states go now – Nebraska is in the worst shape.
Rippey says, “Nebraska continues to top the nation. Ninety-seven percent of the pasture and rangeland, rated very poor to poor.”
A number of other Plains and Western States follow Nebraska: California (95% poor to very poor), Wyoming (86%), New Mexico (84%), Nevada (83%), South Dakota (83% poor to very poor), and Colorado (82%).
Rippey says it’s going to take a lot snow this winter and rain next spring to make up for the bad pasture and rangeland conditions in the Plains where winter is their “dry” season.