Area drought conditions fairly similar, worsen in southeast and north central

Aug. 31—Locally, the official drought designation is little changed from a week ago, but other parts of the state have seen conditions worsen.

South-central Minnesota is in either moderate drought or listed as abnormally dry, according to the latest Drought Monitor map released Thursday.

The region of extreme drought in the southeastern corner of Minnesota, including the Rochester area, has expanded.

And southern Cass, Crow Wing, Aitkin and Carlton counties in the Brainerd Lakes area of north-central Minnesota are now in extreme drought.

While area farmers hope the soybean crop has a decent chance thanks to heavy rains a few weeks ago, they are concerned about the heat wave that is yet to hit.

"We have pretty good heat coming this weekend," said Garden City farmer Bob Roelofs.

"We could really use a shot of rain to help the beans, but the 10-day forecast doesn't look good for rain."

While the corn crop was damaged earlier from the drought and yields are not expected to be great, soybeans set pods in August so the most recent rain gave them a boost. Still the year's drought conditions have stressed the beans.

"I think the top end of the beans' (yield) will get knocked off with this heat coming, but beans can be unpredictable. But with the conditions we've had the last 30 days, we do need a good shot of rain soon."

Amboy and Lake Crystal area farmer Caesar Larson said the crops in this area are hanging in there, but he recently returned from South Dakota and said western Minnesota crops are in tougher shape.

"Our soils treat us pretty well (in this area), but we've certainly struggled with the lack of rain. But in western Minnesota, the crops look like they are maturing early. The corn is turning pretty good and even soybeans are a week into their color, so there will be some harvest activity in mid-September there."

In the Mankato region, Larson estimates soybean harvesting won't begin for about a month.

He too worries the coming heat will cut into soybean yields.

"We still have a chance for a solid crop, but it's not going to be exceptional."

The Mankato forecast calls for 89 degrees Friday, 95 Saturday and 100 degrees Sunday. Monday's high is forecast to be 96 and Tuesday's 91 degrees, before the highs drop to about 80 after that.