When spring 2013 passed without a healthy rainy season, ranchers pinned their hopes on good growth in the fall. However rain came late, leaving pastures to wait for warm weather to get grasses growing again, reported Ching Lee in the Sierra Sun Times.
"Things may germinate, but they'll just sit there," said Glenn Nader, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Yuba, Sutter and Butte counties. "There's not going to be any rapid growth until March — unless we get an unusually warm December."
The state needs successive rain storms this winter to fill the ground with enough moisture to support decent growth next year, Nader said.
In the meantime, ranchers will have to purchase feed, but prices are higher because the drought also pushed down production.
"People can quickly feed themselves into a negative cash flow with today's hay prices," Nader said. "That's why a lot of people are looking at alternative dry matter sources such as corn stover, rice straw and other things, to try and cheapen up those costs."