It's no surprise to folks in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and other drought-stricken areas: heat continues to depress pasture conditions compared to last year. USDA's National Ag Statistics Service says 46% is rated at good or excellent compared to 57% last year. More telling, 25% is rated as poor or very poor compared to 13% last year.

It's worth noting, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) that the last five five-year periods (2001-2005, 2000-2004, 1999-2003, 1998-2002, 1997-2001) were the warmest five-year periods in the last 111 years. The next warmest five-year period was in the 1930s (1930-34), when the western U.S. suffered from an extended drought coupled with anomalous warmth. The warmest U.S. year on record was 1998, where the record warmth was concentrated in the Northeast as compared with the Northwest in 1934.

According to NASS, for the week ending June 4:

States with the worst pasture conditions (at least 30% of the acreage rated poor or worse) include: Alabama (30%); Arizona (78%); Colorado (67%); Florida (45%); Kansas (30%); Nebraska (38%); New Mexico (79%); Oklahoma (37%); and Texas (51%).

On the wet side of the fence, states with the most lush pasture conditions (at least 40% rated good or better) include: Alabama (40%); Arkansas (56%); California (80%); Idaho (90%); Illinois (81%); Indiana (83%); Iowa (76%); Kentucky (70%); Maine (98%); Maryland (48%); Michigan (72%); Minnesota (74%); Mississippi (43%); Montana (58%); Nevada (88%); New York (83%); North Carolina (60%); North Dakota (49%); Ohio (71%); Oregon (74%); Pennsylvania (57%); South Dakota (45%); Tennessee (74%); Utah (79%); Washington (74%); West Virginia (47%); and Wisconsin (78%).

For a look at the U.S. precip situation, visit drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html.
--Wes Ishmael