ELGIN, Minn. (WCCO) — Much of the state has gone through a third straight dry summer. The latest drought monitor from the Minnesota Department of Resources shows which parts of the state have suffered the most. Southern Minnesota, east of Interstate 35, is in severe drought.
“You can go two miles and have guys who have been catching rain events all year. And then people who haven’t had rain in two months,” said Jake Andrle, of Legend Seeds.
Near the town of Elgin, seed dealers from Minnesota and Wisconsin have gathered to talk crops and Mother Nature. They’re comparing notes on what grows best in a drought.
“Hybrids and varieties that are tolerant to dry weather overall. We are back-to-back years where southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin overall have been very dry,” said Andrle.
When it comes to rain, experts say it’s best to look at it like a bank. There were a lot of rain deposits in the springtime, but now there’s a serious deficit.
No one is feeling that more than farmers near Rochester. Many fields haven’t seen significant rainfall in a month.
“The precipitation pretty much stopped for several weeks,” said Ryan Miller, of the University of Minnesota Extension. “We’ve gotten about 10 inches of rainfall this summer. So that’s quite low.”
It’s about half of what they normally see. Miller said last week’s extreme heat, with overnight lows in the 80s, was a major blow. And it may have caused some corn fields to shut down weeks ahead of time.
“It looks like we fast-forwarded from August to October,” said Miller.
While he says some of these fields could be harvested already, the yield won’t be good. Any rain they get from here on out, will help next year’s crop. Not this one.
“Certainly this is the worst I’ve ever seen it as far as drought conditions and stress that the crop has been under all year,” said Miller.
The Rochester area is known for having some of the best topsoil in the country. But Miller told John that it is now bone-dry several inches below the surface.