December unusual mild for North & South Dakota agriculture


North Dakota

The month of December brought warmer than average temperatures and very little snow accumulation to the state, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Dakota Field Office. While the mild weather conditions were welcomed by most, some winter wheat and alfalfa producers expressed concern over the lack of adequate snow cover for their crops. County and secondary roads on January 1 were rated as 97 percent open and difficult. Road conditions were 16 percent icy, 1 muddy, and 83 dry. Agricultural activities during December included grazing, moving, and vaccinating cattle. Statewide, average snow depth was 0.2 inches on January 1, compared with 18.3 inches at this time last year. The north central district reported the highest snow depths, with 1.5 inches received. The west central, southwest, and south central districts reported no snow accumulation so far.

As of January 1, snow cover protection for alfalfa was rated 98 percent poor and 2 adequate. Snow cover protection for winter wheat was rated 94 percent poor and 6 adequate.

Cattle conditions were rated 11 percent fair, 68 good, and 21 excellent. Sheep conditions were rated 12 percent fair, 74 good, and 14 excellent. Hay and forage supplies were rated 2 percent short, 66 adequate, and 32 surplus.

South Dakota

The month of December was unusually mild with only minor snowfall amounts scattered across the state. Winter wheat and alfalfa could still use snow cover. There was a slight concern across the state as to the impact the warm temperatures will have on the winter wheat and alfalfa. The feed supplies were plentiful due to the  extended grazing season, and livestock were doing well in most areas of the state. Major activities last month included; caring for livestock, moving hay to winter storage, burning slews and over grown areas, cleaning up from the fall harvest and repairing equipment. This report was based on information from regional extension educators, Farm Service Agency county directors, and other reporters across the state.

Producers across the state  were concerned about the lack of snow cover for the winter wheat and alfalfa. Mild temperatures were also a concern for the winter wheat. Winter wheat condition was rated at 1 percent very poor, 11 percent poor, 47 percent fair, and 41 percent in the good to excellent range. Snow cover for winter wheat was rated at 95 percent poor with the remaining 5 percent adequate.  Alfalfa snow cover was rated at 96 percent poor and 4 percent adequate.

Livestock were thriving with calving and lambing conditions ideal with the mild temperatures. Cattle were rated 95 percent in good to excellent condition; with calf deaths rated at 74 percent average and 26 percent below average. Sheep were rated 97 percent in good to excellent condition; with lamb deaths rated at 85 percent average and 15 percent below average. Stock water supplies were 92 percent adequate to surplus and feed supplies were 99 percent adequate to surplus, both ahead of the 5-year averages of 80 and 89 percent, respectively.