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Published July 23, 2012, 07:43 PM

Drought over quarter of ND expected to affect yields

Area farmers should learn some details about how this year’s drought is affecting yields Tuesday afternoon when they participate in a small grains variety tour near Thompson, N.D.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

Area farmers should learn some details about how this year’s drought is affecting yields Tuesday afternoon when they participate in a small grains variety tour near Thompson, N.D.

They’re already well aware of what they’re facing in the Red River Valley.

“We expect yields to vary, from normal to below normal,” Grand Forks County Extension Agent Willie Huot said, adding that the continued heat stress is likely to affect quality, not only of grain, but of other crops as well.

“If we don’t get some moisture, it’s going to get worse,” he said.

The National Weather Service forecasts a 50-percent chance of rain showers and thunderstorms tonight, with a 40-percent chance on Wednesday, plus a possibility of rain on Thursday.

Huot said field crops such as corn already are showing signs of stress.

“Shortly, we’ll start to see the corn yield affected,” he said. “We’ll see cobs with kernels on the bottom, but not on the top. But that’s down the road.”

Worst since 2008

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday announced that farmers and ranchers affected by drought in the Dakotas will be allowed to use Conservation Reserve Program acres for emergency haying or grazing. However, the ruling does not cover especially sensitive lands such as wetlands.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that 26 percent of North Dakota is in a drought, including 16 percent in a severe drought, according to Adnan Akyuz, state climatologist and assistant professor of climatology at North Dakota State University.

“This is the worst drought to hit North Dakota since September 2008,” Akyuz said in a news release late last week.

“At the beginning of the planting season this spring, if the soil had not been charged with moisture from the previous wet season, conditions would have been much worse,” he said.

Akyuz said moisture is needed now, if not for this year’s crop, but for next year.

“Even if the weather pattern changed now, it might not help the crop that is already in the field,” he said. “However, the change is desperately needed to recharge the soil before getting into the freeze so that moisture could be utilized for the spring planting next year.”

However, he sees no changes in the weather pattern during the next two seasons. He said that means the above-normal temperatures forecasted for this fall and winter would exacerbate the ongoing drought conditions in North Dakota.


Call Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1110; or send email to kbonham@gfherald.com.

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