Halito (Hello) from Dr. Evan Whitley the Director of Agriculture!
Well, by both the calendar and thermometer standards, summer is finally upon us. I don’t know about y’all, but I have been hesitantly anticipating this summer. Probably more so than usual.
As I have alluded in the past, successful drought mitigation is determined by planning for a drought, managing through a drought and recovery/responsiveness after a drought. Hopefully, we are smack-dab in the latter phase, and it’s an important one for anyone trying to make a living in agriculture. The “compounding” effects of multi-year droughts are systemically influential; the next three/four months will be important in either halting the long-lasting impact of last year’s drought – or defining whether we continue the drier pattern. By definition, “recovery” and “responsiveness” are reactionary terms. In this situation, we – as natural resource managers – react to current weather patterns and how they impact key production and financial indicators.
For example, the Choctaw Nation Ranches, compared to last year, are witnessing rainfall and average ambient temperature values greater (2.3 inches) and lower (3.0°) for the 2nd quarter (April, May, June) – positive indication that, this year, weather patterns are more favorable. However, soil temperatures and soil moisture (@ 2″) are trending slightly higher (2.6°) and less (8.8%), which indicates we may have filled some ponds, but we are not yet out of the woods. This is consistent with the fact that current soil fractional water index (FWI) values at 4″ are greater (6.7%) than at 2″. In other words: we are drying out, and both have trended downward for the last 30 days, giving credence to the old saying, “we’re always two weeks from a drought.”
The main point here is that, as managers, we can’t react to an action – especially those out of our control, such as weather patterns – if we don’t monitor key resulting metrics. Based upon the above objective weather information and other data, along with key production information such as cow condition and forage availability, we are taking a relatively cautious approach at this time as we move in to the “dog days” of summer.