The USDA helped develop a Grassland Productivity Forecast to reduce ranchers’ guesswork about livestock grazing. Also known as Grass-Cast, the experimental forecast uses 30 years of historical weather and vegetation data along with seasonal precipitation forecasts to help producers in the northern Great Plains. The forecast predicts whether rangelands in individual counties are likely to produce above- , near- , or below-normal amounts of vegetation for grazing. USDA recommends ranchers consult the forecast several times during the growing season as maps are updated every two weeks. Since the program cannot differentiate desirable forage species, ranchers and land manager must use their knowledge to determine where grazing resources are best. Grass-Cast is a collaborative effort of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Drought Mitigation Center, Colorado State University and the University of Arizona.
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