North Dakota Drought Worrying Crop and Livestock Producers

June 22, 2017 03:25 PM
North Dakota Drought Worrying Crop and Livestock Producers

A severe drought plaguing nearly a third of North Dakota is creating concerns for the state's agriculture industry.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture Drought Monitor graphic map released June 15 shows that 15 counties coming from both sides of the Missouri River are designated as being in a severe drought, with all but a few others statewide showed as being in a moderate drought.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Allen Schlag told The Bismarck Tribune that there's no relief in the near future. He said temperatures will fall below average until the Fourth of July and there's no moisture pattern in sight.

"It'll be a little bit cool and nothing big for moisture," Schlag said.

The situation is considered severe because of the near absence of rain since April, when crops went into the ground and alfalfa and grasses began reaching for moisture to continue growing. Schlag said Bismarck recorded the fourth driest May in more than a century.

"In my career, this is the driest I've seen — the longest time without rain in a growing season," said Chad Weckerly, a crop producer. "Until a few days ago, we only had one-fourth inch of rain during the growing season. It's so dry, the weeds won't grow."

Crop producer Stan Blickensderfer said he's selling his winter wheat for livestock feed, and a pair of cattle producers said they're glad to get it because their pastures don't look like they'll end up supporting grazing into fall.

"It's deteriorating fast. This is definitely a disaster," Blickensderfer said of the winter wheat. "In a few weeks without rain, there'll be no harvest, and we'll be dependent on crop insurance."

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