MWBC Crop Conditions: How many inches of snow equals one inch of rain?

According to NASS: Cooler temperatures were observed, and minimal moisture was received across the state of Montana, according to the Mountain Regional Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, approximately 86 percent of Montana is abnormally dry or in a current state of drought, with about 19 percent of the state in severe to exceptional drought. Reporters across the state noted some moisture was received, but it did little to improve the drought conditions. Topsoil moisture conditions were 39 percent adequate to surplus, down significantly from the previous year at 98 percent. Subsoil moisture conditions were 36 percent adequate to surplus. Planting has started for most crops across the state. Barley planted was estimated at 21 percent complete, ahead of the 5-year average of 14 percent. Planting of dry edible beans started this week, with an estimated 1 percent of the crop planted. Durum wheat planting has begun, with an estimated 1 percent of the crop planted. Oats planted is estimated at 6 percent complete, ahead of the previous year, but slightly behind the 5-year average of 8 percent. Oilseed planting has begun ahead of normal, with 2 percent of both canola and flaxseed planted. Spring wheat planted was reported at 15 percent complete, ahead of the 5-year average of 12 percent. Sugarbeet planting is making progress, with an estimate 8 percent of the crop planted, slightly ahead of the 5-year average of 7 percent. Winter wheat was reported with 65 percent of the crop breaking dormancy, ahead of the previous year at 63 percent. Winter wheat conditions were rated as 63 percent good to excellent compared to 64 percent this time last year. Reporters in Custer and Prairie counties stated conditions continue to worsen and spring grass is very slow to grow. Grazing accessibility is relatively unchanged from the previous week, with an estimated 87 percent of pastures open, compared to 84 percent the previous week. Calving and lambing continue to make progress, with 69 percent of cows calved and 56 percent of ewes lambed.


How many inches of snow equals one inch of rain?

On average, thirteen inches of snow equals one inch of rain in the US, although this ratio can vary from two inches for sleet to nearly fifty inches for very dry, powdery snow under certain conditions. (NOAA)

A small dusting of snow across Montana still does not offer much improvement in our drought status. While conditions have indeed improved according to NOAA should we be hoping for the denser moisture rich sleet? Producers in Montana would take any form of moisture right now.

Despite minimal moisture our wheat and barley outlook improved. Scattered snow and cooler temps throughout the state helped slow down the sun’s evaporation. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to visit Nate Powell-Palm’s farmstead near Belgrade MT. The farm is nestled in the Bridger mountains and receives mountain snow/rain more frequently than the highline. Nate was very satisfied with his moisture content and eager to get back into the seeder.


Spring wheat and barley plantings skyrocketed well beyond our 5-year average. Those who got their barley in first have moved onto pulses hoping to get their crop harvested early to beat out the uncertain weather.

Adam Carney out of North East MT halted planting early this week due to some welcomed snow, yet it is dry.

“It’s really dry, I hope this little bit of snow is enough to start some pasture grass or germinate some wheat seed. 

If it continues to stay dry I will seed wheat instead of flax and lentils instead of peas. Reason why is for better Federal crop insurance. “

Field days are back on! Look at the schedule CLICK HERE


If you need help sourcing wheat and barley ingredients for your business, we would love to help. We will connect you with several options that provide numerous methods of delivery. All our wheat and barley suppliers can conduct negotiations virtually to fit your country or states regulations if needed, otherwise social distancing is not a problem out here =)

-Sam Anderson




Previous Article MWBC Crop Conditions: Planting 1% Ahead
Next Article MWBC Crop Conditions: Barley, The Triple Threat

Documents to download

Connect with MWBC on Social Media