Farmers are hoping for rain as extreme drought conditions continue

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According to an NDSU Extension Center agent, 98 percent of the state is in some sort of a drought — with 85 percent in an extreme drought.

It’s news from the latest drought monitor that can literally make or break a farmer.

“We are currently sitting with the driest conditions that have existed since the drought monitor has been in place,” said Paige Brummund.

She says the dry conditions in the fall, winter and now into the spring are making the ground not ideal for farmers’ busy planting.

Cale Neshem is one of them.

He started seeding April 24.

“This is far and away probably poorest conditions I’ve seeded in,” said Neshem, of Flatland Farms.

Neshem says in some spots, the soil is so dry and hard, it’s like concrete.

The Neshems say this soil isn’t suitable for irrigation. A sandier texture is better and this is more of a clay. And they’re hoping to get some sort of relief soon.

“Sometimes we’ll get that question, ‘Why don’t farmers just install irrigators?’ In this part of the state, and this part of the country is primarily dryland farming. We don’t have a lot of water resources and not many farmers in this area are set up to irrigate,” Brummund said.

Brummund says if they don’t get relief soon, there may not even be a crop to harvest.

“While we might have enough moisture to get that crop germinated, it’s going to need more in order for it to grow and thrive and actually make a crop or produce a yield,” said Brummund.

And the clock is ticking.

Neshem said, “I think there’s a lot of guys in the state that are in the same situation, you know. A lot of this crop is going into the ground and they’re seeding hope and just waiting for rain.”

The Neshems have already seeded canola, durum and spring wheat. They’re waiting until the end of next week to plant their soybeans and corn.

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