Drought conditions in North Dakota cause concern for agriculture

Agriculture

A dry winter is giving way to a dry spring and causing big problems across our state.

At least three dozen wildfires in the state have burned more than 20,000 acres, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Farmers and ranchers are worried about what comes next.

Most of North Dakota is under a severe drought as we approach growing season. With almost no snow to melt and already dry soil, this creates headaches for local agriculture.

Allen Schlag, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said, “We’ve been experiencing drier than normal conditions, leading to drought designations on U.S. drought monitor ever since the spring of 2020.”

Penny Nester from the NDSU Research Extension Center in Kidder County says this can lead to restricted forage production.

Other concerns from this drought, along with low humidity, warm temperatures and gusty winds include wildfires.

Schlag said, “We’ve already experienced some wildfires in western North Dakota and that likely is going to continue.”

He also says we would need well over two inches of precipitation by the end of April to improve our current drought condition, which stands at a D-2 (severe drought).

It isn’t just the amount of rain, however, but the rate at which it falls. One event that produces a substantial amount of precipitation in a relatively short timeframe will not benefit as much as a slower, steadier rain.

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