Recent rains have Oklahoma farmers rejoicing after dry spell; critical time for crops, cattle

LEONARD, Okla. - In some areas of northeast Oklahoma, nearly 3.5 inches of rain fell over the last three days, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet, which has area farmers smiling.

In Leonard, just outside of Bixby, cattle farmer John Christ says his farm benefited from three-fourths of an inch of rain. While it may not sound like much to the average person, John says the rain was a sight for sore eyes.

"We wish for more but grateful for what we got," John said.

Year-to-date, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the northeast portion of the state saw 7.6 inches of rain. That's nearly 8.4 inches below normal .

Rain is critical to Christ's cattle. It's the lifeblood of the grass and hay the natural beef producing cows eat, which in turn, is their lifeblood.

"The most important thing that we need to have is grass to grow to feed the animals," he says, "to be able to sustain our program."

Without fresh feed, John and cattle farmers like him are forced to buy substitutes and dip into long-held reserves. It cuts profits from the farms and forces grocery bills to be just a bit more expensive.

And if stocks of feed are down, it forces John to have to downsize his herd.

"You have to look at the herd numbers that you have and you have to start making those tough decisions that you made two years ago. How many cows do I keep? Which ones do I sell? So it becomes a real -- it's real beneficial to have rain. Rain is good."

Downsizing, John says, is an issue cattle farmers across Green Country Face.

"That's been the challenge the last two to three years, as we've had these dry years, is how do you sustain yourself without moisture and rain? Rain is a blessing and we're glad to have it when it comes," John explained.

In addition to ensuring feed for his 70 to 80 cows, the rain is coming at a critical time for soy beans and wheat. Soy, John says, is just beginning to emerge from the soil. Wheat producers, John says, should feel fortunate.

"It's just in the dough stage, so it's real important because that's what produces the seed is we have to have that moisture pulling up from the plant. So some people are very fortunate."

Christ hopes more rain is on the way this summer.

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