Ongoing drought worries farmers |

Ongoing drought worries farmers

Devin Martin
Created: July 21, 2021 05:46 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Minnesota hasn't seen this kind of drought in a long time, with 52 percent of the state now experiencing a severe drought. 

As you can imagine, it's been tough on farmers. 

"Time of heat with no rain is really going to cause a lot of damage," Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union said. 

Gary's concerned, not only for the farmers he advocates for but for his son. He farms in west-central Minnesota. 

"We have a little bit of prices for the commodities for the grains but if you don't get a rainfall, you're not going to have much to sell," Wertish said. 

Gary says livestock farmers are hit the hardest by this drought, as many of them have to make a choice. Either to liquate their herd to get by, or decide to feed their herd, which can cut themselves short for the wintertime. 

"They're going to have to decide on whether or not to buy hay, which is very high priced now, or do they sell some of the herd? There's a lot of decisions like that being made," Wertish said. 

Peter Boulay is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources climatologist. He says this kind of drought happens every 10 years, the last time we had one was in 2012.

"We're going to continue to slide as long as the days go by without rainfall. Albert Lea since June first is three and a half inches short than normal. Rochester is shorter than normal too, but for July, Rochester is still a little bit above normal," Boulay said. 

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Olmsted County is in a moderate drought, but parts of Freeborn and Mower County are experiencing a severe drought.

"It will take at least a good three inches maybe more than that to make up the deficit, maybe more than that," Boulay said. 

The University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca released data that shows a majority of corn in our area is pollinated and is in good growing conditions, and soybeans are flowering.

But we need more rain for the grain-filling period. 

 "We're at that critical juncture to see how much corn we'll get," Boulay said. 

Something Boulay says will impact everyone's bottom line. 

The Minnesota Farmers Union says prices for beef products are already high, and a year and a half from now, if this drought continues to progress, those prices can jump at the grocery store. 


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