Northern Plains Pasture and Range Conditions Decline

Pasture and range conditions, as reported in the Weekly Crop Report issued by USDA’s National Agriculture Statistical Service, declined slightly, nationally, due to deteriorating conditions in the Dakotas and eastern Montana. For the week ending June 24th, 31% of North Dakota pasture/range was rated as very poor and 30% was poor. Five weeks earlier, only 1% pastures in North Dakota had a very poor rating and 10% was considered poor. Combining the very poor and poor condition categories, for the most recent week, the percentage of pasture/range rated such was 53% and 26% for South Dakota and Montana, respectively. Five weeks earlier, those percentages were 19% (South Dakota) and 7% (Montana). For the week ending June 26 of last year, the combined percentage of very poor and poor pasture/range in North Dakota was 11%, South Dakota 13% and Montana 18%.

Pasture conditions in contiguous states are vastly different, so far. The percentage of Nebraska pastures recently rated poor or very poor was 8%, showing slight deterioration since early May. Nine percent of Wyoming pastures were rated poor or very poor, somewhat improved from early May. Oklahoma’s condition was rated about the same as in early May with only 4% very poor or poor.

Regional feeder steer prices are showing some effects of the declining forage conditions. South Dakota feeder steer prices reported by USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (Market News Division) were much weaker for lighter weight cattle than in Nebraska markets. Steers weighing 600 pounds in South Dakota in mid-June were priced $9 lower per cwt. than a month earlier. Over the same time span in Nebraska, the price comparison for similar steers was up $10 per cwt. Oklahoma City prices were $3 per cwt. higher and Montana’s were down $4. 


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