Winter freeze and wind damage to wheat remains low

The month of December 2017 was mostly cold for the state of Montana, though there were brief periods of above average temperatures between storm systems, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Mountain Regional Field Office, Montana. High temperatures ranged from the high 30s to the high 60s. Low temperatures ranged from the teens to -43 degrees in Saco. Precipitation in the form of snowfall was present across most of the state but a few areas are still below normal. The highest recorded precipitation for the month was in Heron 5.46 inches of moisture. Topsoil moisture conditions were 67 percent adequate to surplus, which is below last year’s 88 percent. Subsoil moisture conditions are 46 percent adequate to surplus which is well below last year’s 77 percent.

So far, winter freeze and wind damage to winter wheat remains low but reporters note the extent of damage may be hard to gauge until the crop breaks dormancy in the spring, particularly in the northeastern portion of the state. Snow coverage for the state is rated 58 percent good to excellent compared with 59 percent at this time last year. Winter wheat condition is rated 40 percent good to excellent, compared with 58 percent last year. Pasture and range conditions improved from the last report with 12 percent rated good to excellent, but are still lagging compared to 45 percent at the same time last year. Livestock producers are providing supplemental feed at similar rates as the previous year at this time with 94 percent of cattle and 98 percent of sheep being fed.