California is the largest milk-producing state, representing 20 percent of U.S. milk production every year. The Central Valley has nearly 1.5 million dairy cows and one of the highest concentrations of livestock in the nation. The Central Valley has faced some extreme heat already this year, with nine days in June over 100 degrees. The historical average daily temperature in the Central Valley is 87 degrees, with a record of 111 degrees. This year, the temperature averaged 91 degrees and peaked at 109 degrees. July is typically the warmest month for this region, averaging a high of 95 degrees. However, the first seven days of July shows this could be an unusually warm month as well. Temperatures were between 97 and 101 degrees July 1-7, with daily forecasts for the next two weeks all above 100 degrees.
Milk production takes a significant hit during times of high heat due to animal stress. However, it’s not just yields that will be affected. Extreme heat can reduce component levels and affect downstream processing by changing the yield in dairy products such as butter and cheese.