Drought spreads in south-central Minnesota

·2 min read

Aug. 4—The areas of severe and moderate drought have expanded across south-central Minnesota.

The latest Drought Monitor map, which includes data as of Tuesday, shows the moderate drought grew significantly. It now stretches from near St. Cloud to the southern tip of Nicollet County and from the Twin Cities all the way to the South Dakota border near Pipestone.

Meanwhile severe drought is reaching ever farther southwest and now covers Sibley County, northern Nicollet County and a slice of Brown County. The severe drought classification is now in part or all of Redwood, Renville, Brown, Nicollet, Sibley, Le Sueur, McLeod, Carver, Scott, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Washington counties.

Thanks to heavy rains to the east of Mankato last weekend, Waseca County and counties to the east and south of there have adequate moisture.

Unlike last year, when northern Minnesota was stuck in a long-term severe drought, the northern half of the state has so far had adequate moisture and no drought, thanks to heavier rains this spring.

Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst and vice president at MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal, said it's been frustrating for farmers to the west and southwest of Mankato.

"Unfortunately, the rainfall patterns have been the same the last six weeks. Storms form in South Dakota and sometimes have hail and wind as they move into Minnesota but not a lot of moisture. And then they pick up moisture as they move east of Mankato."

"Basically, the area east of Highway 169 and south of Highway 14 is doing good for moisture," Thiesse said.

He said area crops on sandier soils in drought areas are stressed as are some in heavier soils.

"We're at a critical time here, if we want to maximize potential, we need some good rains in the next week to 10 days. The kernels on corn are already set but whether we get moisture or not will determine how well the cobs fill out."

Thiesse noted that last summer, when the severe drought started early and was widespread, much of south-central Minnesota got timely rains in August and September and temperatures moderated.

"That really helped our corn and soybean yields because of the conditions we had in August and September. We're at that point again where we add to our bushels or shut it off depending on the moisture."

According to the USDA's crop report released Monday, Minnesota's corn and soybean crops are in relatively good shape:

—52% of Minnesota's corn crop is in good condition and 11% in excellent condition.

—55% of Minnesota's soybean crop is in good condition and 11% in excellent condition.