Recent rains across most of Minnesota have been a welcome sight.
However, is it enough for adequate soil moisture recharge? That is the million-dollar question.
The U.S. Drought Monitor report map released July 1 shows the whole state of Minnesota in drought, ranging from abnormally dry in the northeast to severe drought along the southern counties. Most of the state is in moderate drought.
TOO DRY: The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows how dry Minnesota is, ranging from abnormally dry to severe drought. (Courtesy of droughtmonitor.unl.edu)
Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota Extension climatology professor emeritus, says he is concerned about the lack of moisture in western areas of the state.
“Lamberton, in Redwood County, is at 0.34 inches for the month so far, a record dry June there,” he says.
1 inch of moisture per week
This time in the growing season, crops need about 1 inch of moisture per week to keep up with their daily transpiration and growth requirements, he says.
“To improve on the Drought Monitor categories, we need to see more than 1 inch per week of rain — more like 1.5 inches per week for a few weeks,” he adds.
Grass pastures have been under stress longer with the drought, compared to other crops. Thom Petersen, Minnesota agricultural commissioner, says state ag officials are monitoring conditions closely.
“We’re watching haying and grazing opportunities, such as grazing RIM [Reinvest in Minnesota] and DNR [Department of Natural Resources] farmland,” Petersen says. “We are also talking with federal government [officials] and FSA [the Farm Service Agency] about opening up grazing.”
Primary nesting seasons ends in Minnesota on Aug. 1, so currently (as of July 1), emergency haying and grazing CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) land is not yet approved. Around 30 counties are eligible since they have been rated at the D2 level drought for at least one week.
Petersen says the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is meeting every other week with farm groups and state and federal agency officials to stay on top of the drought situation.
Check these online sources for more information on the drought and emergency haying and grazing:
Additional drought resources
The Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center has assembled resources into an online drought toolkit to assist farmers during this dry time. Resource topics covered include economics, the environment, health, social well-being, heat illness, and safety and wildfire safety.
View the resources at Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center – SPOTLIGHT: Drought Toolkit .