This is a crucial week for many area farmers: a lot of area fields are running out of moisture. As of late last week, parts of the region were in moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a partnership of federal and academic scientists, and high temperatures this week are worsening the problem.
To be sure, many fields are doing just fine. In the past week I’ve been out across a big chunk of North Dakota and seen a lot of fine-looking fields that have received plentiful or adequate rains. Farmers and other agriculturalists in those areas are still optimistic.
But I also saw too many fields showing clear signs of inadequate moisture. The people who farm those fields are watching their crops deteriorate day after day. Each day that passes without rain will bring poorer yields and less income.
Let’s hope the farmers who need rain will get it, and quickly.
People who aren’t involved in agriculture don’t always understand the importance of the timing of rain during the growing season.
An inch of rain at a critical time in a crop’s development can do more good than an inch, or even two inches, a few days later. A timely rain or two can make the difference between a good crop and an average one, or an OK crop and a bust.
In working on several Agweek stories this week, I’ve talked with farmers and ag officials from across the Upper Midwest. They all say the same thing: many farmers and ranchers in their state or area received timely shots of precipitation over the past few weeks, while other producers need rain quickly and badly.
Farmers and ranchers need many skills to survive in modern agriculture. Perhaps the most important is the ability to manage risk successfully. But even the best risk-managers are more successful when they receive a few timely rains.