More lightning, machine-caused fires expected

Montana had another week hot, dry week marked by scattered afternoon thunderstorms that brought lightning, hail and highly variable amounts of rain, with the largest accumulation of precipitation reported at Pompey’s Pillar where 1.49 inches fell, according to the Mountain Regional Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA. 

High temperatures for the week ranged from the mid 80s to 102 degrees in Brandenberg, and low temperatures ranged from the upper 20s to the lower 50s.

Reporters nearly statewide, excepting the northeast, are noting that fields and pastures are becoming very dry and brown, and there were more lightning and machine-caused fires this week as a result. There was more hail damage this week, particularly in the central and northeastern parts of the state, that impacted crops, such as flaxseed, that had previously missed hail damage. 

Harvest continues ahead of the five-year average for all small grains, and producers have begun to harvest durum wheat that is six percent harvested.

Pasture and rangeland conditions continue to deteriorate with 36 percent good to excellent, which is above last year’s 25 percent but below the five-year average of 42 percent. 

Reporters are noting that pasture conditions at high elevations are faring better but drying out quickly. Producers have begun to move animals off summer pastures with 9 percent of cattle and 8 percent of sheep moved, which is well ahead of the five-year average for both.

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