This past winter has been pretty warm and dry, which doesn’t sound too bad for some. However, it can cause headaches for local agriculture.
Crops and livestock rely on aquifers, which are underground reservoirs of water. These aquifers are stressed when there is a deficit in rain and snow totals.
Western North Dakota has been relatively dry dating back to this past autumn. Penny Nester from the NDSU Research Extension Center in Kidder County said that forge production will suffer from the lack of water.
She also said that the lack of forge production would lead to less cattle on the pastures as they intend.
Chase Dewitz, a local farmer near Steele, said “we better see some sort of moisture or we’re going to have issues getting crops to even germinate.”
He said the dry weather can make it harder to control weeds, even though the weed pressure might not be as high. Some weed killers need moisture to be able to activate. Otherwise, the weeds can grow right through it.
He did say that it is not all bad news though, as he was able to complete certain projects like repairing fences and fixing ruts. The livestock were able to graze further into the winter since it has been relatively warm.
Dewitz remains optimistic, and says that a large rainfall or snowfall event can turn the tides and get the growing season back on track.