Peck, Dannele; Derner, Justin; Parton, William; Hartman, Melannie; Fuchs, Brian
Highly variable precipitation in western U.S. rangelands makes it challenging for ranchers to match animal demand to forage supply. Flexible stocking can enhance matching, thereby reducing losses during drought and increasing profit during wet years. Yet the benefits of flexible stocking depend on the availability of highly accurate and applicable seasonal climate outlooks. The availability and skill of seasonal climate outlooks is summarized, revealing shortcomings that make flexible stocking less practical and less beneficial. A new grassland productivity forecast, Grass-Cast, can facilitate flexible stocking by translating climate outlooks into more applicable summer forage outlooks, and its strengths and limitations are described.