Extreme drought conditions in much of the U.S. are persisting into the new year. Continuing a significant drought that began in late 2020, the final Drought Monitor reading of 2022 showed that 74.05% of the U.S. is abnormally dry and 49.65% of those areas are classified to be in a moderate to exceptional drought. The drought index has not shown these levels since 2013. As it stands, 17 states have a Drought Severity and Coverage Index (DSCI) reading greater than 150 and have for 117 consecutive weeks – the most prolonged period in the 23-year drought monitor history.

January drought is concerning for the growing season, but there is still time for conditions to improve before spring. However, the current season drought outlook map provided by the Climate Prediction Center suggests that conditions are unlikely to improve in the significant beef cow states. But as La Niña continues to fade and turn neutral by spring, there’s reason to be optimistic for improved conditions in the hardest-hit cattle states.

Read more on drought conditions in cattle country here.