In his first weather outlook for the Dakotas for the 2016 spring and summer, Leon Osborne, director of the Regional Weather Information Center at the University of North Dakota, said "if nothing changes we will see conditions similar to 1988."
That sent shudders through some farmers packed into the seminar room at the Fargodome during the recent Northern Ag Expo.
"My wheat only averaged 5 bushels an acre in 1988," said Lanny Faleide president and CEO of Agri ImaGIS, who farmed in the Maddock, N.D., area in the 1980s.
"The only yield I got off was from wheat on summer fallow, and that was about 7 bushels (per acre)," added James Swanson, former North Dakota State Seed Department regulatory supervisor, who also farmed in the Maddock area.
Osborne mentioned the word "drought" more than a dozen times during his presentation. Despite some recent snowfall the eastern Dakotas, much of the region has been in a drought since August and it will likely continue, he said.
However, Osborne began his presentation with a disclaimer.
"We are at the very edge of our predictability for next summer," he said. The Regional Weather Information Center updates its forecast about every two weeks. "A lot could change."