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Dry June is impacting Minnesota pastures, cattle farmers

MINNEAPOLIS — June’s dry weather has impacted Minnesota’s pastures, and may soon force cattle farmer to make tough decisions before they run out of grass.

Cattle veterinarian and University of Minnesota extension educator Joe Armstrong said those decisions include possibly weaning calves early to lower the amount of energy cows need, or selling cattle early to reduce the size of the herd, the Star Tribune reported.

Minnesota is abnormally dry. A majority of the state is declared to be in a moderate or severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska.

Monday’s crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says roughly half of Minnesota’s pasture and range land is in very poor or poor condition. Only 14% of the state’s pastures are in good condition and none were deemed excellent for the week ending Sunday, the USDA said.

“At this point, if we get rain, it may help regrowth a little bit, but we’ve lost so much that even a decent amount of rain is just not going to benefit the crop this year,” said Armstrong.

Jared Luhman, who raises Red Angus with his family near Goodhue, said he’s never experienced anything like this, and his dad told him this is the worst it’s been since the drought of 1988.

Their pasture usually gets 60% of its grass growth in May and June before conditions dry out in July, Luhman said.

“But we are already dry in what is usually the wet season, so we don’t know what that means for the rest of the year,” he said.