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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Drought Management - Do You Have to Run Out of Forage Before You Manage?

Authors
item Heitschmidt, Rodney
item Klement, Keith
item Kruse, R - MONTANA STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Research Update for Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2002
Publication Date: January 15, 2003
Repository URL: http://www.larrl.ars.usda.gov
Citation: HEITSCHMIDT, R.K., KLEMENT, K.D., KRUSE, R.E. DROUGHT MANAGEMENT - DO YOU HAVE TO RUN OUT OF FORAGE BEFORE YOU MANAGE?. RESEARCH UPDATE FOR FORT KEOGH LIVESTOCK AND RANGE RESEARCH LABORATORY. p. 29. 2003.

Interpretive Summary: A fundamental challenge in the range livestock industry is the timely implementation of drought management strategies. Although many producers have a drought management plan, implementation of said plan is often reactive rather than proactive. The reasons for this vary. But in our opinion, the fundamental reason ranchers delay in implementing effective drought management plans is because they are eternal optimists relative to up-coming precipitation events. They know 'precipitation is on its way' and this optimism is further bolstered by their belief that the next rain will significantly reduce, if not entirely eliminate, all drought related problems. We believe Northern Great Plain's ranchers can implement effective drought management strategies with considerable confidence by early summer because: 1) they know that total production is largely a function of springtime precipitation; and 2) most production is completed by July 1. So, by incorporating knowledge of the amount of springtime precipitation, relative to the long-term average, and visual assessment of July 1 perennial grass standing herbage, they can begin to adjust forage demand (i.e., stocking rates) long before they deplete their entire forage base.

Technical Abstract: A fundamental challenge in the range livestock industry is the timely implementation of drought management strategies. Although many producers have a drought management plan, implementation of said plan is often reactive rather than proactive. The reasons for this vary. But in our opinion, the fundamental reason ranchers delay in implementing effective drought management plans is because they are eternal optimists relative to up-coming precipitation events. They know 'precipitation is on its way' and this optimism is further bolstered by their belief that the next rain will significantly reduce, if not entirely eliminate, all drought related problems. We believe Northern Great Plain's ranchers can implement effective drought management strategies with considerable confidence by early summer because: 1) they know that total production is largely a function of springtime precipitation; and 2) most production is completed by July 1. So, by incorporating knowledge of the amount of springtime precipitation, relative to the long-term average, and visual assessment of July 1 perennial grass standing herbage, they can begin to adjust forage demand (i.e., stocking rates) long before they deplete their entire forage base.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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