Drought, heat creep into Northern Plains

With a run of temperatures in the 90s and 100s for the week ending July 8, crop conditions are generally ahead of five-year averages in the region. Some farmers are in better shape than others, but most areas want some rain.

With a run of temperatures in the 90s and 100s for the week ending July 8, crop conditions are generally ahead of five-year averages in the region. Some farmers are in better shape than others, but most areas want some rain.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service releases state-by-state details:

bull;North Dakota -- Topsoil moisture supply on July 8 was rated 2 percent surplus and 56 percent adequate, about the same as the previous week. The subsoil moisture was about the same for the previous week, also, at 3 percent rated surplus and 65 percent adequate. Temperatures climbed to the mid-90s Fahrenheit at locations from Williston to Watford City, Bowman, Wyndmere and Fargo. Temperatures are running about 2 to 3 degrees above normal (average of 1971 to 2000) in the northern part of the state, and 4 to 5 degrees above normal through the southern third of the state.

Towns with the biggest shortfalls in precipitation from seasonal averages are Fargo, 2.9 inches below normal; Forest River, 2.7 inches below; with Hillsboro close behind. Areas like Hettinger, Linton, Streeter, Harvey and Cavalier are the furthest ahead of normal in moisture. Cavalier picked up 3.3 inches in the previous week and Hettinger got a 2.3 inch total.

Crops are mostly in good to excellent condition, but wheat, corn, potatoes and soybeans showed marked declines.


Specific crops and percentage totals in the two top rating categories of good to excellent: barley, 77 percent; durum, 83; spring wheat, 74 (down from 80 the previous week); oats, 76; canola, 84; corn, 74 (down from 81 percent the previous week); dry edible beans, 62; dry edible peas, 81; flaxseed, 88; potatoes, 62 (down from 79 percent the previous week); soybeans, 71 (down from 77 percent the week before); sugar beets, 66 (down from 83 percent the previous week); sunflower, 83; hay, 46; pasture, 55.

Crop progress as of July 8: barley, 35 percent turning ripe, up from 8 percent the previous week and compared with 3 percent for the five-year average; durum, 40 percent in milk stage, 7 percent average; spring wheat, 27 percent turning ripe, 2 percent average; corn, 14 percent silking, 3 percent average.

Potatoes were 76 percent blooming, compared with the 32 percent average for the date; soybeans were 36 percent blooming, 19 percent average; sunflowers are 3 percent blooming, compared with 1 percent average.

•Minnesota -- Topsoil moisture was rated adequate or surplus in 60 percent of the state as of July 8, down from 78 percent the previous week. Forty percent of the state was rated short or very short of topsoil moisture as of July 8.

Crop progress compared with percentage averages: oats, 69 percent turning ripe, 18 percent average; spring wheat, 62 percent turning ripe, 8 percent average; barley, 70 percent turning ripe, 11 percent average; corn, 64 inches (5 feet, 4 inches) tall, 49-inch average; soybeans, 57 percent blooming, 21 percent average; dry beans, 33 percent blooming, average unavailable.

Crop condition percentage totals in good to excellent condition as of July 8: pasture, 61 percent (down from 74 percent the previous week); oats, 72 percent; barley, 70 percent; spring wheat, 61 percent; sugar beets, 78 percent; sunflower, 83 percent; corn, 77 percent (down from 82 percent the previous week); soybeans, 72 percent; potatoes, 90 percent; canola, 60 percent; dry beans, 68 percent (down from 72 percent the previous week).

Rainfall departure from normal since April 1 is below normal in northwest Minnesota, and highly variable in west central Minnesota. None of the reporting stations in the list received more than an inch during the week.

Crookston, for example, is 2.6 inches behind normal. Moorhead is down 1.9 inches from averages. Alexandria is 3 inches ahead of normal and Montevideo is 4.4 inches ahead. Willmar is 2.2 inches ahead and Hutchinson is a whopping 7.4 inches ahead. Most parts of the state are 6 to 8 degrees above normal temperatures, while the southwest part of the state is 10 to 11 degrees higher than long-term averages. Much of the state is about an inch short on moisture for the past month, compared with averages.


•South Dakota -- Much of South Dakota is more than an inch below normal in precipitation for the past month, and areas of the southeast and Black Hills are more than 2 inches below normal for the month. Much of east-central South Dakota is still above normal in precipitation since the start of the growing season on April 1.

Temperatures were about 7 to 9 degrees above normal in the northeast part of the state, about 10 to 11 degrees above normal in the east central and southeast. Rainfall at Aberdeen is 3.4 inches below normal since April 1. Southeast South Dakota is 3 to 5 inches below normal since April 1, with Yankton and Vermillion more than 5.7 inches below normal. Temperatures peaked over 100 degrees through much of the state.

Stock water supplies are adequate in 63 percent of the state and short or very short in 37 percent of the state, compared with only 8 percent short during the five-year average. Feed supplies are rated adequate or surplus in 66 percent of the state, but short in 34 percent of the state.

Subsoil moisture as of July 8 was short or very short in 71 percent of the state, a change in rating from 65 percent the previous week. Last year, only 3 percent of the state was ranked short of subsoil moisture. Topsoil moisture for the week was 73 percent short or very short, about the same as last year. Last year, only 3 percent of the state was short of topsoil moisture.

Winter wheat was 89 percent ripe, compared to 18 percent at this point last year. Winter wheat is 41 percent harvested, compared with 11 percent the previous week, and a five-year average of 3 percent.

Barley was 78 percent turning color, up from 48 percent the previous week and much more advanced than the 15 percent average for the date. Spring wheat was 92 percent turning color and 10 percent ripe. Corn was 55 inches tall, but 87 percent got a second cultivation or spraying, compared with 55 percent last year. Twenty-four percent was silked, compared with a five-year average of zero. Soybeans were 45 percent blooming, up from 29 percent the previous week.

•Montana -- Temperatures topped 100 degrees in much of the southeast, south central and northeast parts of the state, causing precipitous declines in crop conditions.

Precipitation since April 1 has been average or above average through much of north central and northeast Montana, but subpar in much of the central part of the state. The south central region varies from 45 percent of normal at Billings, to 56 percent above normal at Gardiner. Many south central and southeast locations are more than 3 inches below normal precipitation on the season.


Crop conditions good to excellent as of July 8: barley, 41 percent, down from 51 percent the previous week; oats, 40 percent, down from 64 percent from the previous week; durum, 61 percent, down from 87 percent the previous week. Spring wheat was 51 percent good to excellent, down from a 63 percent estimate the week before. Winter wheat conditions were relatively steady at 55 percent good to excellent. Cereal crop heading status was barley, 74 percent; oats, 70 percent, durum, 39 percent, spring wheat, 61 percent and winter wheat, 100 percent.

Winter wheat was ahead of last year, with 51 percent turning ripe. Spring wheat was 88 percent in the boot stage, compared with last year's 45 percent, and was 61 percent headed. Pulse crop harvest has started, with both dry peas and lentils at 3 percent for the week.

Range and pasture feed condition dropped to 52 percent poor or very poor, compared with 42 percent the previous week. The five-year average was 3 percent. Only 15 percent of the pasture and feed was rated good to excellent, down from 29 percent the previous week.

Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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