I’m a bit worried about what this grazing season has in store for many of us.
Let’s just start right off by looking at the Vegetation Drought Response Index for the United States as of April 25. This map combines current satellite data and information about soils, land cover, land use and ecological settings that can influence plant growth. It shows us plant stress levels – or how vegetation is responding to conditions on the ground.
White represents near normal conditions and green shows unusually moist areas. As you can see, this map doesn’t have a lot of either of those. All that yellow, orange and red indicates where vegetation is stressed from having experienced some level of drought the year before. It is not as resilient, or as productive as it normally is.
It makes sense that vegetation is stressed when you see the maps in John Marble’s drought outlook article this week showing what was predicted last year, and what this year looks like as a result. At least half of the country is experiencing some level of drought.
It’s important to take a close look at this information because, as Dallas Mount points out, hope springs eternal, sometimes leading us to making poor grazing management decisions.
Yes, there could be some rain, but in many places it won’t be enough to make up for about a year of drought. That’s a hard truth that Bill Fosher covers in his May 1st video on soil moisture on his farm in New Hampshire and the lack of recovery after three days of rain.
So, here’s my public service announcement:
If you’d like more, download the “Drought Planning 101” ebook. It’s free for paid subscribers and has the steps you need to create a drought plan, and, if drought hasn’t hit yet, to prepare your water and forage resources to make it through challenges like this.
You can do this! It just takes a little forethought.
Thanks for reading!