MINOT, N.D. - The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network's station four miles south of Minot received just shy of 3 inches of rain in the second half of June. It gave the area in north-central North Dakota a "kind of green" look, says Paige Brummund, North Dakota State University Extension Agent for Ward County.
Other parts of northern North Dakota also received much needed rain in late June, with some areas in the northwest receiving more spotty storms into the early days of July.
That's kept the land from taking on the dry, burnt look of a typical drought year, Brummund says. It's also helped perk up some row crops like soybeans and corn.
However, the infusion of moisture wasn't enough to counteract all the effects of a dry spring.
"The issue, I guess, is the damage is done," Brummund says.
Northern North Dakota is in its third consecutive year of drought conditions. Little rain fell in the early spring months, which are vital to the production of grass in hay fields and pastures and to the development of small grains.
According to the report of the U.S. Drought Monitor, relating conditions on July 2, abnormally dry conditions cleared up in parts of northwestern North Dakota and into northeastern Montana. However, a small chunk of North Dakota along the Canadian border remained in severe drought, with a surrounding portion of the state in moderate drought. Much of the northern portion of the state remains in abnormally dry conditions, which also have spread farther into Minnesota.
Ward County includes pieces of severe drought, moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions. Brummund has seen spring wheat headed out with heads only measuring about an inch and a half, with only six or seven rows of grain.
"Yields are not going to be good," she says.
Hay and pastures in the area still are not in good shape, even with the rain, she says. That's bad news for producers already struggling with forage shortages from the past couple years of dry conditions. Even the recent rains are unlikely to make much of a difference in those areas, Brummund says.
Plus, Brummund explains, some of the rain, particularly a late-June storm, fell so fast that much of it ran off, leaving little to soak into the soil. Adding that to the generally cool spring and early summer conditions, and many crops are delayed, she says.
Meanwhile, the southern half of North Dakota has remained wet since winter. No drought or abnormally dry conditions have been recorded in southern North Dakota, Montana or Minnesota.