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October brings much cooler temperatures and chance of snow after Wyoming's warm, dry September


CHEYENNE, Wyoming — The first weekend of October has brought much cooler temperatures and the chance of snow in some Wyoming mountains after much of the state saw a warm, dry September.

The Wyoming branch of the National Agricultural Statistics Service publishes a weather report summarizing conditions statewide each week.

The most recent report, dated Sept. 27, recorded zero precipitation in more than two dozen cities and towns in all five agricultural districts across the state.

Additionally, every city and town in the report logged above-average temperatures for the month, ranging from 7 to 19 degrees above normal.

The National Weather Service said Cheyenne saw its warmest September since record keeping began in 1871.

The heat and clear skies weren't necessarily a bad thing for Wyoming's agricultural sector, according to Wyoming NASS statistician Rhonda Brandt.

"Often times when crops are nearing harvest, they need to be able to dry down," Brandt told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (http://bit.ly/1JMfN8E). "It was quite the unusual month, for sure. But with the exception of winter wheat, it really didn't damage anything."

Unlike, for example, the bone-dry summer of 2013, ranchers and farmers entered this summer in good shape, thanks to above-average precipitation earlier in the year. For that reason, Brandt said the dry heat of this September proved beneficial to many crops.

"The crops that were nearing harvest have progressed faster as the month went on," she said. "Dry edible beans is of most note; it's 57 percent harvested, compared to a five-year average of 46 percent. Corn for silage is 80 percent harvested, compared to a five-year average of 69 percent."

Livestock and pasture conditions also are doing reasonably well, though conditions for the latter have declined somewhat over the last month.

"At the beginning of September, pasture and range condition was 76 percent good to excellent," Brandt said. "As of Sept. 27, it was 66 percent good to excellent. But with a five-year average of 45 percent, compared to normal, there's good pastures right now."

She added that livestock, such as cows and sheep, were rated 95 percent in good to excellent condition at the beginning of the month, compared to 94 percent as of Sept. 27. In fact, the only exception to the good news, as noted earlier, was in winter wheat production.

"If it's planted wheat, it needs more moisture and cooler temperatures to grow," Brandt said. "Right now, winter wheat is 80 percent planted, compared to a five-year average of 86 percent. But the emergence is 35 percent, compared with an average of 52 percent. So it's in the ground, but it's slow to come up."

Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com

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