Small grains in good condition

A frigid end to the first week of the month was felt December 6-7 with negative wind chills in the Panhandle and temperatures in the teens and twenties throughout the state according to today’s Oklahoma Crop Weather report issued by the USDA-NASS 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 December 19th 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 December 27th 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.

Small Grains: 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 42 percent, 27 points above the five-year average.

Pasture and Range: Pasture and range conditions were rated mostly poor to very poor. Conditions improved slightly from November, 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 rainfall was not enough to replenish critically low ponds. There were a few reports of cattle deaths due to the blizzard in the Panhandle.

The entire Oklahoma report can be view online at: under “Recent Reports.” The national database, Quick Stats, and all USDA-NASS reports are available on the agency’s web site: For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the USDA-NASS Oklahoma Field Office at 800-525-9226.

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