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July temperatures in Wyoming ranged from normal to 10 degrees above normal at all stations throughout the state. The state, as a whole, experienced its ninth warmest July on record since 1894. July precipitation was below normal statewide, except in the northeast and south-central parts of the state, which received near-normal precipitation.

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) map from Sept. 5 shows abnormally dry and drought conditions have persisted and expanded throughout Wyoming since July 25. Campbell and Crook counties have seen an expansion of abnormally dry and severe drought conditions. Additionally, the northern swath of these counties have entered severe drought.

Abnormally dry conditions have developed throughout a significant portion of Teton, Sublette, Lincoln, Uinta, Sweetwater, Carbon, Platte and Goshen counties and in northern parts of Park and Big Horn counties.

View current USDM maps at weather.gov/riw/drought and a drought timeline for your county at wrds.uwyo.edu/drought/timelines/timelines.html.

Help us help you by submitting drought condition reports to the National Drought Mitigation Center at droughtreporter.unl.edu/submitreport. You can include other weather related information such as flood impacts. Photos are appreciated.

Looking forward

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) eight- to 14-day forecast, which was made Sept. 12 for Sept. 20-26, shows a greater chance for below normal temperatures throughout all of Wyoming. The precipitation forecast for the same time period is above normal for all of Wyoming.

The one-month forecast for September, made Aug. 17, in Wyoming shows a greater chance for above normal temperatures for most of the state. Southeast Wyoming is the exception – having an equal chance for above, below or normal temperatures.

The one-month precipitation forecast shows an equal chance of above, below and normal precipitation for the entire state.

To view NOAA’s most recent forecasts, visit cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.

Ag considerations

The eight- to 14-day and one-month forecasts give a rough idea of what to expect during the next 30 days. However, we all know weather fluctuates day-to-day, and temperature and precipitation extremes can occur unexpectedly.

As you map out your late summer and early fall activities – such as moving livestock closer to the home place and weaning calves – consider whether your operation has enough flexibility to delay or advance these activities by a few days – or even a few weeks, to mitigate impacts to livestock due to potential weather extremes.

Featured resources

Did you know NOAA updates the eight- to 14-day forecast daily, or you can contact your local National Weather Service (NWS) Office 24 hours a day with specific, near-term weather questions for your area.

Five NWS offices serve Wyomingites. The Cheyenne office, which can be reached at 307-772-2468, covers eastern Wyoming. Riverton’s office covers western and central Wyoming and is available at 307-857-3898. For producers in Uinta County, Salt Lake City, Utah’s NWS office can be reached at 801-524-5133. The Billings, Mont. office covers Sheridan County and is available at 406-652-0851, and Rapid City, S.D.’s office can be reached at 605-341-9271 for producers in Campbell, Crook and Weston counties.

Another featured resource for this month is RightRiskTM – a partnership among the University of Wyoming (UW) Extension, Colorado State University Extension and the University of Nebraska Extension, which helps decision-makers discover innovative and effective risk management solutions.

Visit their website at RightRisk.org to learn more or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to subscribe to their monthly newsletter.

Remember to plan, monitor, know your alternatives and adapt as needed.

This article was written by UW Extension and USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub Regional Extension Program Coordinator Windy Kelley. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 307-766-2205. The column was reviewed by Wyoming Water Resources Data System Deputy Director Tony Bergantino and Justin Derner of USDA Agricultural Research Service. Dannelle Peck of USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub also reviewed the article.

Most of your neighbors look for their solutions to come out of a bag, bottle, bale or block. Sure, there are times these things are useful, but the major competitive advantages come from things that take effort on your part. Rarely can a solution to a complex problem or a breakthrough for your business be purchased.

As an Extension agent, most of the questions I get on a day-to-day basis start with the phrase, “What do I spray it with?” or “What do I plant?” The answer to these questions only addresses a symptom and not the underlying problem.

Let’s take a “What do I plant?” question and dive in deeper.

The rancher’s problem is a pasture had become overgrown with sagebrush and cheatgrass, and he wants to rehabilitate the pasture to a more productive forage specie. In its current state, the pasture produces about 600 pounds per acre of forage for a stocking rate of 0.2 animal unit months (AUMs) per acre, for a gross value of $4.50 per acre in grazing. If he rehabs it, he thinks it could grow 1,200 pounds per acre with stocking rate close to 0.4 AUMs per acre for a gross value of nine dollars per acre.

Rehabbing the pasture will cost around $100 per acre, fail 25 percent of the time and take three years before production reaches the expected levels. It doesn’t take very long to see that the economics of this “solution” stink. The bigger issue is that if the management of the pasture that caused the sagebrush and cheatgrass to increase doesn’t change the long-term result won’t likely change either.

We need to change the question. Rather than asking “what do I plant, spray, inject, pour, etc.,” we need to ask deeper questions about how we can change management to address the problem rather than symptoms. Often, we find that the change in management requires us to challenge the way we do things, learn a new way of doing what we need to do and take actions that require a new way of thinking. These are much more difficult actions than simply looking for the next thing to buy.

I’m not saying that any of these inputs are wrong or that your ranch shouldn’t use them. I am saying that the cost and returns of each input and the associated costs of providing that input need to be carefully evaluated. I’m also strongly encouraging you to ask deeper-level questions to see if the use of the input is addressing a symptom or the underlying problem.

So, what do you think the rancher said after I gave a long-winded answer about addressing the underlying management? Yep. “So, what do I plant?” I gave him a species list that would work for the site.

If you want the short answer or the long answer, UW Extension is here to help, but fair warning, sometimes you might get the long answer.

Identifying, selecting and disseminating superior genetics for the lamb industry is the focus of the University of Wyoming (UW), Wyoming Wool Growers Association and Mountain States Lamb Cooperative Terminal Sire Ram Test. Sixty rams from 13 ranches were evaluated for growth performance, carcass ultrasound characteristics and feed efficiency data over a 62-day period. Ram lambs arrive to the University of Wyoming Laramie Research and Extension Center the end of May and conclude performance testing the end of July. The 2017 Terminal Sire Test was again successful in identifying superior performing Suffolk, Hampshire, Shropshire and Composite rams.

Central performance testing is not a new selection tool, yet the UW Terminal Sire Test is the only of its kind in the nation, due to the ability to collect individual animal intake and thereby measure feed efficiency and residual feed intake. Measuring these economically relevant traits and identifying superior performing rams allows producers to select rams that will sire lambs that excel in the feeding phase and on the rail.

Since these terminal sires will produce lambs destined for harvest, the traits measured on the test are combined into an overall index that combines average daily gain, loin eye area, back fat thickness, residual feed intake and cost per pound of gain. These traits are weighted in the index based upon their heritability estimates and economic importance to identify the superior performing individuals. By taking a proven selection tool in central performance testing and incorporating new technologies, including feed efficiency and carcass ultrasound data, we are ensuring a premier product at the ranch, feed yard and retail case. 

The top 25 percent, or 15, rams will be offered Sept. 12 at the 89th annual Wyoming State Ram Sale at Wyoming State Fairgrounds in Douglas. The following rams represent the top 25 percent.

1 – Tag 159 – Index: 0.249, ADG: 0.95, LEA: 3.04, BF: 0.18, RFI: -1.3781, Cost per Pound of Gain: 0.52, Visual: 4.0, Scrotal: 29.5, Consignor: Reed

2 – Tag 7319 – Index: 0.219, ADG: 1.00, LEA: 3.24, BF: 0.20, RFI: -0.6846, Cost per Pound of Gain: 0.79, Visual: 5.0, Scrotal: 34.5, Consignor: Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC)

3 – Tag 751 – Index: 0.218, ADG: 1.03, LEA: 3.05, BF: 0.17, RFI: -0.7722, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.58, Visual: 3.3, Scrotal: 30.0, Consignor: Dona

4 – Tag 7209 – Index: 0.197, ADG: 1.00, LEA: 3.43, BF: 0.17, RFI: -0.0765, Cost per Pound of Gain: 0.71, Visual: 4.3, Scrotal: 36.0, Consignor: LREC

5 – Test Number 43 – Index: 0.194, ADG: 1.02, LEA: 3.36, BF: 0.23, RFI: -0.1803, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.66, Visual: 4.0, Scrotal: 34.0, Consignor: Maneotis

6 – Tag 713 – Index: 0.165, ADG: 0.79, LEA: 3.77, BF: 0.21, RFI: -0.1781, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.86, Visual: 4.3, Scrotal: 37.0, Consignor: Dona

7 – Tag 119 – Index: 0.165, ADG: 1.08, LEA: 3.28, BF: 0.29, RFI: 0.0268, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.71, Visual: 3.3, Scrotal: 40, Consignor: Regan Smith

8 – Tag W706 – Index: 0.161, ADG: 0.97, LEA: 3.40, BF: 0.18, RFI: 0.0773, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.72, Visual: 4.3, Scrotal: 34.5, Consignor: Fenster

9 – Tag 752 – Index: 0.155, ADG: 0.81, LEA: 3.20, BF: 0.17, RFI: -0.8260, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.65, Visual: 2.7, Scrotal: 32.0, Consignor: Dona

10 – Test Number 39 – Index: 0.148, ADG: 1.10, LEA: 2.64, BF: 0.25, RFI: -0.7899, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.77, Visual: 3.7, Scrotal: 31.5, Consignor: Maneotis

11 – Test Number 40 – Index: 0.136, ADG: 0.76, LEA: 3.20, BF: 0.23, RFI: -1.0161, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.71, Visual: 4.0, Scrotal: 31.0, Consignor: Maneotis

12 – Tag 710 – Index: 0.130, ADG: 1.06, LEA: 3.15, BF: 0.16, RFI: 0.3251, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.68, Visual: 3.7, Scrotal: 36, Consignor: Atkinson

13 – Tag S731 – Index: 0.125, ADG: 0.98, LEA: 3.06, BF: 0.19, RFI: -0.1487, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.65, Visual: 4.0, Scrotal: 32.0, Consignor: Stewart

14 – Tag 7330 – Index: 0.104, ADG: 0.82, LEA: 3.46, BF: 0.24, RFI: 3.46, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.80, Visual: 4.3, Scrotal: 37.0, Consignor: LREC

15 – Tag 7325 – Index: 0.100, ADG: 0.94, LEA: 3.25, BF: 0.25, RFI: 0.0866, Cost Per Pound of Gain: 0.75, Visual: 4.3, Scrotal: 33.0, Consignor: LREC

For more information on these and other high-quality rams offered at the state ram sale, visit wyowool.com for a catalog. Producers interested in participating in central performance testing – either Terminal Sire or White Face –  at the University of Wyoming should contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 307-766-5374.

 


By Jeremiah Vardiman, 
UW Extension Educator

It is not uncommon to hear from our agriculture community that they are always interested in possible new markets or new commodities with established markets to support the economic means of their operation. Montana and North Dakota have done just that with pulse crops over the past two decades. Since the 1990s the production of U.S. food legumes has moved from the Palouse region, which includes eastern Washington, Idaho and eastern Oregon, to the Northern Plains, which is comprised of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. By 2009, North Dakota and Montana became the largest and second largest producers of pulse crops, respectively.

So what is a pulse crop? A pulse crop is an annual legume grown for human or animal consumption, defined as those crops grown solely for the dry seed, such as lentils, dry peas and chickpeas.

Pulse crops exclude crops like green beans or fresh peas. There is only one class of lentils that is grown for grain and used for human consumption, along with chickpeas, which are solely grown as a grain for human consumption. Dry peas can be harvested for livestock forage or grain intended for livestock or human consumption.

So why discuss pulse crops for Wyoming when cattle dominate the state’s agriculture industry and hay production leads the state’s crop production? Pulses, especially for livestock consumption, are very easy to incorporate into the different cropping systems found throughout Wyoming. Pulse crops can be incorporated into hay fields, rotated into wheat/fallow production or utilized in other seed cropping systems. So no matter what crop you are growing, pulse crops could have a potential place in your rotation.

Undoubtedly the best fit for pulse crops in Wyoming would probably be dry field peas since they make a great livestock feed source. Field pea varieties fall into two primary classes, green and yellow. In Montana, yellow pea types tend to out-produce green pea types by approximately 10 percent, however yields vary strongly among varieties within both classes.

All field pea varieties are acceptable for livestock feed and are quite nutritious. An important benefit to field peas is the ability to directly feed to livestock without having to go through the extrusion heating process used in soybeans. Field pea grain contains approximately 21-25 percent protein that can be easily cracked or ground into grain rations, while field pea forage is approximately 18-20 percent protein.

Field peas can be inter-seeded into small grains, such as oats or millet, for hay production to increase the protein concentration of the forage by two to four percent while also increasing the relative feed value. Additional nutrition benefits to field peas are the high level of carbohydrates and low fiber content. They also contain 86-87 percent total digestible nutrients.

In a wheat/fallow cropping system, field peas can be grown as a green manure or green fallow crop by directly seeding into stubble. Cropping field peas into a fallow field maintains or improves the soil and productivity of the future crop. When compared to black fallow, the benefits of green fallow include improved soil fertility, exploitation of rotational crop benefits, protection of soil from erosion and substitution of water loss from evaporation or leaching to transpiration from plant growth.

Since field peas are legumes, they do fix nitrogen and, hence, need to be inoculated with a strain of Rhizobium bacteria. The rule of thumb on the amount of nitrogen fixed is 1.25 pounds of residual nitrogen per acre for every bushel of peas. Green fallowing can increase dryland spring wheat yields from an average of 35 bushels per acre to an average of 39 bushels per acre.

Field peas can also be planted in other seed cropping systems such as barley, dry beans, sugarbeets, sunflower and corn. Field peas can be used as an additional crop in the rotation, as a companion crop and as ground cover to hold soils between crops. Other possibilities may also exist, depending on the individual operation.

Field peas can be grown in a wide range of soil types from sandy to heavy clay, with moisture requirements similar to those of cereal grains. However, fields that have a history of perennial weed problems, from species such as quackgrass, Canada thistle, perennial sowthistle and field bindweed, should be avoided. Pulse crops should also not be considered for fields that have been sprayed with herbicides that have a long residual effect such as Finesse, Glean or similar chemicals.

For more information on pulse crops, contact your local Extension Office.