A tale of two growing seasons: Drought and flooding

Local News

It’s been a challenging year for farmers across North Dakota.

Darrell Oswald from the Menoken Farm said, “This year has been, I believe, particularly harder even than last year.”

Last year’s challenge that Oswald is referring to was the surplus of moisture going into the growing season.

“Both growing seasons have been particularly difficult, but a lot of that has got to depend on where you’re at,” said Oswald.

A surplus of moisture sounds great until you consider certain issues that can arise.

Oswald said, “You got trouble getting into fields and things like that, spraying timeliness and disease issues to consider when you have obviously too much moisture.”

We haven’t quite found that middle ground yet, as some areas received flash floods last week, while others are still waiting for some relief.

KX Storm Team Meteorologist Amber Wheeler said, “You can pretty much take Williston for example. They pretty much wiped out their deficit in a day.”

These floods are hurting farmers already struggling with severe drought conditions.

Oswald said, “With huge amounts of moisture and things like that, you get a lot of moving water in certain areas, and that’s exactly what happens. It can just take the plant and or, if it hasn’t germinated yet, the seed, and totally just relocate it, and so that’s just never a good scenario.”

He said that certain crops respond differently given a certain moisture scenario, prompting him to try different practices this year.

“This year we’ve tried some sunflowers out here at the Menoken farm, with some cover crops,” said Oswald.

Determining the best course of action is a balancing act farmers struggle with every year, let alone two vastly different growing seasons.

Oswald said, “In agriculture, we’re always trying to find the right amount scenario, and that’s kind of always what we shoot for, but mother nature has her own designs, and so that’s somewhat difficult to achieve most years.”

Heading into this summer, climate models are hinting at the dry pattern continuing.

Wheeler, providing a hint of good news, said “The silver lining here, is that the signal for the drier than normal forecast isn’t as strong as it was going into the spring.”

Ideally, we would like to see a slow steady rain, with enough moisture to seep into the ground to help put fresh and healthy produce on your dinner table.

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