Lack of rain leads to drought in some areas - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Lack of rain leads to drought in some areas


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) --  It's no secret that we have been extremely dry over the last couple of months.   And some places around the area are in an all out drought.

Our counties right on the Mississippi are doing just fine, but as you head west into Olmsted, Mower, and Fillmore counties we start to get into Moderate drought level and getting near I-35 and points west, we are talking about a severe drought. This is no doubt having an impact on agricultural around the area, some of these are positive, others are negative.

Just last may, we were talking about the weather being too cold and too wet for planting crops.

"We always joke about, you know just wait, tomorrow it will change and that's what the weather does."

And it did. By mid summer the heat cranked up and we were talking about being in a deficit in the temperature department.

"A Couple of years ago in 2009, we were extremely wet, you couldn't buy a day to have a good harvest. October was wet, snowy, whatever. Here we jump forward to 2011, you can't buy a day of rain," says Lisa Behnken, a regional extension educator from the University of Minnesota.

Dan Hoffman, a Farm Business management instructor at Riverland Community College in Austin tells me that back in 2009 it cost approximately $50 an acre to get the corn dried artificially. This year it costing farmers on average $5 and acre and in some instances nothing at all.

But there is a trade off. While the dry weather is helping reduce drying costs, in some cases its too dry and overall yields have suffered. It is also raising costs in other areas.

"The soil is very hard, very clumpy so it makes it difficult on the equipment, a lot more breakdowns, wear and tear on the equipment,"  Behnken says

Obviously the lack of moisture is not just affecting the crops.

"A lot of our perennial plants really suffer by not having good moisture in the fall, whether it's the trees, whether it's lawns, whether it's the golf courses, pastures, alfalfa crop, they go dormant during the winter, they don't die in the winter. Dormant means they need moisture through the winter months," says Behnken

And the time to get that moisture is now.

"We need fall recharge and we're not getting any. What kind of spring we will have, I know you can always change it, you can get a lot of rain, but right now this is not setting up for a good spring."  Behnken adds, "We're way too dry."

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