Drought troubling western North Dakota farmers

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The hot weather doesnt just take a toll on your body, the intense heat and lack of rain are starting to put stress on crops all over the state.

We spoke with two farmers feeling the heat this agricultural season.

For farmers, the sun can be a friend and a foe– they need it to help the crops we eat, grow, but with little rain across the western portion of the state this year, the sun has turned into an enemy, baking the prairies dry.

And dry ground makes it hard for crops to grow.

We stopped by the ranch of Perry Moser. He’s got just under a thousand acres around Baldwin.

“Our crops are starting to show some stress, and the small grains, I’m afraid, I don’t know if this rain’s gonna save them or not. It’ll definitely make some hay out of them but I don’t know if we’re gonna see any grain,” said Moser.

He adds that his beans and corn can weather the dry conditions, but only for a while before they too start to fade.

He said he also fears things may only get worse the deeper we get into summer.

“If we don’t get some rain, there’s gonna have to be some decisions that are gonna have to be made as too, our pastures are starting to dry. I mean they still look good, they still got grass but there’s gonna be a point where we’re gonna have to make some decisions if we thin some cows out, wean some calves, just what we’re gonna do,” said Moser.

At the Heart River bottoms just north of Flasher is a perfect example of how dry it’s been. Farmers we talked to say they need a good amount of rainfall here sooner than later.

One of those farmers is Douglas Hille. he manages 6,000 acres and says the dry conditions are having a big impact on not only his crops but his cattle.

“Not only is there not forage growing but wherever the cattle walk, what is standing green or not green is so brittle it breaks off every time a hoof comes down so they’re actually breaking off and knocking down more than they’re eating a the present time,” said Hille.

And cattle that aren’t eating well is a big, big problem in the long run.

“If we don’t get some moisture, we’re gonna see lighter calves, which is gonna impact income because lighter calves mean less money. We’re gonna see the possibility of cows that are open, because of not eating proper grass and weather conditions. I mean, yeah, there’s gonna be effects from it,” said Moser.

And it’s the mental strain of the unknown that is sometimes the hardest.

“Knowing that you’re not going to have a crop which you really look forward to harvesting, or having to sell some of your best cows and things like that, those are the hardest things on many people and it’s very difficult to work many years to build a cow herd and have to sell them because you can’t scratch together enough feed,” said Hille.

Both ranchers say while the thunderstorms help a little, a multi-day slow, soaking rain region wide is what producers really need right now.

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