The word drought is enough to make any farmer or rancher cringe. But looking at today’s drought monitor, there’s not much to worry about.
Right now, most of the state either abnormally dry or perfectly normal. But last summer, the entire state was mostly red.
“It just looked and felt hopeless to a great degree, but you never had to show that,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.
This is what may fields looked like in July of 2017,and this is now. It’s a drastic change, and farmers and ranchers wouldn’t have it any other way.
Goehring added, “Attitudes are definitely different. People see a lot more hope when they see rain. Chances are you’re going to have some thing to harvest if you didn’t get hailed out. You’re going to have grass to grow which means you can feed livestock. It also mean you can put up hay.”
Taking a closer look, there is sill one part of the state that’s experiencing some residual dryness: parts of Ward and Mchenry county. But according to Allen Schlag at the National Weather Service, that may not last too much longer.
“If I look forward, I’d have to think if they were moving in any direction, it would be an improvement as opposed to a degradation,” said Schlag.
There’s no exact explanation for that one spot of drought. He says they just got the bad luck of the draw. But regardless, optimism is high.
Schlag said, “Even though we might be a little shy on the normal for the amount of vegetation growth and production, the fact is, we’re still green. And we’re heading into the time of year where they may not always be the case.”
Goehring added, “Now that we’re pretty well assured that we have some forage out there and that we have a situation where we’ll probably make it through the summer, there’s hope.”
Schlag tells me this drastic change isn’t completely unusual for North Dakota. We’re in what you call a continental climate meaning the weather goes from one extreme to another as the seasons change.