This past week, USDA-NASS resumed the national weekly pasture and range condition report. The report contains weekly by-state survey results from University Extension staff and other area experts. USDA separates pasture and range conditions into five categories: Very Poor, Poor, Fair, Good and Excellent. As the summer grazing season begins, early grazing conditions in most regions are similar to slightly better than last year, while the Southern Plains (most severely Texas) is suffering from drier conditions.

Overall, pasture and range conditions in the U.S. are a tad better than last year and about the same as the 2003-2007 average. As of the first of May, 20 percent for the nation’s pasture and range was rated Very Poor to Poor compared to 22 percent last year while nearly half was deemed to be in Good or Excellent condition. Recent spring rains helped to improve pasture and range conditions in a number of regions.

On a regional basis, pasture and range conditions in the Southern Plains are much drier than prior years due to a lack of winter moisture this year. In the Southern Plains, as of early May, a third of all pasture and range was reported as Very Poor to Poor compared to only 20 percent last year and the 2003-2007 average of 23 percent. Among the other regions, the Western Region reported about a quarter of pasture and range was in the worst two categories, much better than last year when it had 35 percent classified in those categories. The Cornbelt, which has benefited from plenty of moisture this spring, reported Poor to Very Poor conditions at 8 percent versus 11 percent last year, while conditions in the Great Plains were reported at 15 percent Poor to Very Poor, down from the 27 percent at this time last year.

For additional reports, link to the Livestock Marketing Information Center.