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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Implications of Decade-Long Precipitation Cycles on Grazing Strategies

Authors
item Garbrecht, Jurgen
item Phillips, William
item Schneider, Jeanne

Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 18, 2001
Publication Date: September 18, 2001

Interpretive Summary: Central and western portions of Oklahoma and Kansas are primary grazing areas for stocker cattle in both winter and summer. Forages are produced under dry-land farming conditions and production levels are influenced by seasonal, annual and decade-long variations in precipitation. This paper reviewed decade-long variations in annual precipitation and discussed their implications for forage production and grazing strategies. An increase in average annual precipitation over the last two decades was identified. The duration and magnitude of this increase was found to be greater than during any other time earlier in the 20th century. Recognition and characterization of this increase in annual precipitation provides opportunities for increased forage production. Selection of agggressive grazing strategies that take advantage of increased moisture conditions and forage production can lead to increased profits.

Technical Abstract: Increased annual precipitation prevailed in the Southern Great Plains during the 1980's and 1990's. In this study this increase was characterized for the grazing regions of stocker cattle in Oklahoma and Kansas, and implications of this increase for forage production and grazing strategies were discussed. The duration and magnitude of the 1980-1999 increase in annual precipitation was the largest in the 20th century. An appreciable increase in probability of encountering wet and average conditions during 1980-1999 was identified. This trend in favorable moisture conditions opens the door to adaptation of long-term management strategies for efficient utilization of forages for animal production. On a seasonal basis, late summer and fall months generally received a greater portion of the annual increase in precipitation, suggesting a reduced risk of insufficient fall and winter moisture and a higher fall forage production. In the eastern regions, which are generally wetter, there is also an increased opportunity for diversification and double cropping. Selection of aggressive grazing strategies that take advantage of increased moisture conditions can lead to increased profits.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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