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Connecting Ag to Climate: Rangeland Productivity

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Across the Great Plains, many are seeing warmer and drier conditions as June arrives. Brandings are in full swing, irrigation is ramping up and many herds are heading to summer pasture. 

As producers consider the summer grazing season, consulting the latest Grass-Cast forecast may prove valuable to grazing decisions, such as stocking rates and proactive drought management. 

Grass-Cast maps, made on May 28, estimate how many pounds per acre are expected to grow on rangelands at the peak of the growing season compared to the long-term average in a particular area. 

The three maps show forecasted production if precipitation from May 29 through Aug. 31 is above normal, pictured left; near normal, pictured middle or below normal, pictured right. 

In the right map, more yellow and orange is showing across eastern Wyoming, meaning if the region gets below normal precipitation, producers should expect rangelands to produce five to 30 percent less pounds per acre than the area’s long-term average production. 

In Southeastern Wyoming, in red, rangelands could see a 30 percent or greater reduction of grassland production. 

For more specific production estimates in a local area, visit the zoomable maps at  

As the grazing season continues to unfold, Grass-Cast is updated with newly-observed weather data. So, producers and managers are encouraged to consult the tool when it gets updated every two weeks. 

Averi Reynolds is an ORISE science communications fellow for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Northern Plains Climate Hub, serving Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub strives to provide unbiased information about adaptation and mitigation strategies for ranchers, farmers and foresters to help increase their operations’ resilience to weather variability and a changing climate. For more information on the Northern Plains Climate Hub, visit

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