When the growing season turns dry - as it often does in the Upper Midwest - the U.S. Drought Monitor becomes a closely followed source of information for area agriculturalists. Now, the Drought Monitor includes a new feature allowing agricultural producers to submit their own local drought impact and conditions.

The Drought Monitor is produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in partnership with the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The web site provides, among other things, color-coded maps that illustrate the relative impact of drought across the nation and region, as well as the extent and severity of drought in individual states.

The new reporting feature allows ag producers to:

• Provide a written description of how drought is impacting their livelihood and activities.

• Comment on how long the drought has lasted.

• See how certain geographic areas, including small areas within a state, are affected.

• Submit images of the drought.

• Provide contact information, with the option of keeping the information confidential.

Access the new reporting tool at https://droughtreporter.unl.edu/submitreport/?utm_medium=email&utm_sourc....

In the weekly Drought Monitor reports, experts make their best judgments on drought conditions based on dozens of indicators. Access the Drought Monitor at https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

Drought certainly isn't a major concern in the Upper Midwest overall so far this growing season; excess moisture has been the main challenge in most of the region. But the current Drought Monitor shows dry conditions in the northern tier of North Dakota, a small bit of northwest Montana and a small part of northeast Minnesota.