FAIRVIEW — Unfortunately, drought has been a timely topic for quite some time in Oklahoma.
Areas of the state received rain Thursday, and weather forecasts show varying chances of precipitation into next week.
But Jim Rhodes, Oklahoma State University extension educator for Major County, believes the topic of drought will continue to come up during board meetings at family farms. Those meetings are sometimes also known as dinner time, as spouses discuss important decisions regarding expenses.
That's why winter feeding of cattle, as well as drought concerns, will be the focus of one of the sessions Tuesday during the Northwest Oklahoma Women in Agriculture Seminar at Fairview.
The seminar is designed to provide information and insights useful to women who are involved in agriculture through farming and ranching, Rhodes said.
“One of the expenses that they may be sitting around the dinner table discussing is feed expenses for their cattle,” Rhodes said. “That question will possibly come up: ‘Why are you spending so much on feed?' This session will, hopefully, help with that question.
“It is necessary to have enough protein supplementation to match your forage quality.”
Plus, Rhodes said they will talk about costs involved if producers have to buy hay.
The percentage of Oklahoma experiencing extreme to exceptional drought was 94.68 percent, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday morning. That is up from 91.04 percent last week and 90 percent two weeks ago.
Some areas have experienced rain not only Thursday but in recent weeks, and the possibility for rain in some areas remains with the current forecast.
But sizable deficits still existed going into Thursday. The statewide average precipitation for the last 120 days was 7.29 inches. That was 6.7 inches below normal for that period.
And this drought follows last year's drought. In some areas of Oklahoma, it never really ended.
Effects of feeding
So the winter feeding and drought topic will be among the breakout sessions at the second annual seminar in Fairview.
“Basically what it boils down to is, because of our drought, of course, we're short on grass, so we're going to have to feed more hay this winter,” Rhodes said.
“And we're going to talk about the importance of testing the quality of your hay so that you know what you're feeding. Because of the drought, we're short on hay, but the protein quality of the hay is a little less than normal, too.”
In the winter, producers feed protein supplements.
“The amount depends, in part, on the quality of hay. So we're going to talk about testing your hay so that you know what you're feeding,” he said.
Also important to many Oklahoma cattle producers is whether wheat pasture will be available for grazing purposes.
“We are a long ways from being out of the drought,” Rhodes said, “but what will help us is if we can just get some timely rains to keep us kind of current on rainfall, then we can get some wheat pasture along the way.”
If you go
Northwest Oklahoma Women in Agriculture Seminar
• When: Tuesday. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Sessions begin at 10 a.m. and run through midafternoon.
• Where: Northwest Technology Center, 801
• Cost: $5 per participant; preregistration is not required.
• Information: Call (580) 227-3786.