TFINE MUG

Tim Fine

MSU Extension Agent

Richland County

On the evening of March 19, Patrick Gilchrist, who is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Glasgow, hosted a webinar. The focus of the webinar was to give an updated status of the drought situation in Daniels, Sheridan, and Roosevelt Counties and to offer as much of a Spring outlook as possible.

If you are like me, there are 2 questions that are coming to mind right now. The first is why is he telling me about a webinar that has already taken place and the second is why is he telling me about a webinar that focused on Daniels, Sheridan, and Roosevelt Counties? The answer to both of those questions is simple. First, I was not aware of this event in time to get the word out about it as I only heard about it the day before it happened. But, luckily, the folks at NWS recorded the webinar. So you can watch it for yourself and see what it was about. The recording has been uploaded to the internet and you can watch it at https://youtu.be/hC73aaGA4yI. It is less than a half hour long but there is a great deal of information packed into that brief amount of time.

As to why I would bring your attention to a meeting that does not focus specifically on Richland County that answer is also simple. The weather in those counties does not vary a whole lot from what we experience. The information given, although it may be somewhat different, is still applicable to us.

I do not think it is necessary for me to point out that we are going into Spring seeding and calving season with less than ideal circumstances. I cannot say for sure when the last time was that we had significant moisture and the fact that we have already had two grass fires in the area just highlights the point that drought is a serious concern that we must give some attention to in the coming months.

As an industry, agriculture is more reliant on weather and weather patterns than any other industry that I can think of. To that end, it is imperative that you begin thinking now (if you haven’t already) about some mitigation strategies that you might need to implement on your operation should these dry conditions persist (spoiler alert, if you watch the webinar it does not offer very positive outlook through Summer). I would highly encourage you to think about what some of these strategies might be for your particular operation and to give each of them some critical consideration.

Two more websites that were mentioned on the webinar were sites for giving updates and reports. The National Drought Impact Reporter site can be found at https://tinyurl.com/3zdrmr4a and the Montana Drought Impact Reporter survey can be found at https://tinyurl.com/ct3mpk8s. Both of these sites are important as the governmental organizations that monitor drought severity are encouraging producer/landowner input to help in their assessment.

As always, should you have questions about any of this information or if you would like assistance in filling out the surveys, please give me a call at 433-1206 or send an email to timothy.fine@montana.edu and I can forward you the links. Stay safe this Spring and I will keep praying for rain.

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