For beef producers looking ahead at the upcoming growing season for hay should be encouraged by recent trends during the last couple of weeks and developing trends as we head into May and June.
In particular, some of the areas which were warmer and drier than normal for most of the winter should have enhanced precipitation chances in the coming weeks. Many areas of the central, western and southern High Plains experienced below normal precipitation from January to March.
Many areas of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas came out of March with declining soil moisture profiles. However, the past two weeks have brought the above areas two slow moving storms resulting in heavy, wet mountain snows and widespread rain and thunderstorms to the plains. Many of the above mentioned states saw yearly precipitation reach average or above average for the year to date with the two storms.
These slow moving storms should ease concerns for hay growers in these areas as not only have the past two weeks brought above normal precipitation, but there could be more on the way.
The graphic below highlights precipitation from April 19 through April 26.
The prospect for rain in the western, central and southern plains looks quite good as we head into May. The warmer than normal waters off the west coast that lead to the warmer and drier than normal conditions from January to March, will help feed moisture in the central and southern plains for the remainder of the spring along with an enhanced southern branch of the jet stream.
For most of the month of May, precipitation is likely to be at or above normal from portions of the Great Basin, Rockies and western and southern plains and into the western areas of the Midwest and south. Unfortunately, while some rains will reach California, the rains will not be enough to alleviate the drought conditions there.