Think back a moment to the middle of July. If you’re an ag producer, you remember how hot and and dry it was You also remember the lamentations and gnashing of teeth about how crops would be hammered
Well, the October production report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, estimates that yields of most crops in North Dakota and Minnesota held up pretty well during drought. Many South Dakota farmers were hammered, unfortunately, but their peers to the north and east generally did better.
In no way, shape or form am I minimizing the drought. Some individual farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota were hurt badly, with many livestock producers scrambling desperately for pasture and hay. And no doubt crop yields would have been even better without the drought.
Of course, producers in North Dakota and Minnesota — on the fringes of severe drought in the Corn Belt — benefited from the higher crop prices that the drought helped to generate.
My take-away from all this reaffirms one of the basic truths of production agriculture on the Northern Plains: You can never be sure about yields until you’re sitting on the combine.