While the monitor still shows dry areas across the state, the soil moisture profile is well on its way to being full again.
Del Ficke raises cattle just west of Lincoln, Neb. After months of no rain, pastures were desperate for a drink, and finally this summer, that moisture came.
"Good pastures, we had a lot of regrowth, good hay crop," says Ficke. "From the last time you were here, it’s just a 100 percent improvement."
This is the depressed picture of the area last March. Much of the state was in the most severe level of drought, and Ficke was grinding feed to get him by.
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Today, these rains have been more frequent. While the monitor still shows dry areas across the state, the soil moisture profile is well on its way to being full again. That means Ficke’s livestock can survive on the land, versus feed, for a few more months.
"Hopefully if we don’t get a lot of snow, we’ll be able to graze another 90 days," he says.
Ficke’s pastures may be recovering, but he says the lingering effects of the dry weather mean his pastures still need a break.
"Eastern Nebraska is very resilient with its good grass. It just needs a rest, and so we cut back on cows already last spring and some more this fall," he says.
Ficke’s trailer has been busy moving cattle out. With the grass needing to recover and cattle prices so attractive right now, he’s cut his numbers in half.
"The prices have certainly been good," says Ficke. "We’ve certainly pulled the trigger on a lot of cattle earlier this year than normal."
He says he finally has a good stockpile of hay and hopes to rebuild numbers in about a year.
"These pastures are coming back, we’re going to do some different things as far as management styles" he says. "We’re probably start increasing herd again towards next fall."
Ficke says that while the western half of the state isn’t in as good of shape, Nebraska ranchers have proved their resilience once again.