Wet, wetter & wettest in the Dakotas
In recent years, farmers in northeastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota have endured several Old Testament lessons.
Although it hasn’t rained 40 days and nights as it did during Noah’s Flood, farmers have nevertheless endured massive flooding in recent years. That’s given them the patience and fortitude of Job when it comes to enduring pothole-pocked fields and jelly-like soils.
This year, wet soils are accompanied by a resulting cold snap. This is Rush Lake, just west of Waubay, South Dakota. Yes, that’s late-April lake snow and ice you are seeing.
That pretty much spelled out how many fieldwork photos I’d take on my way up to an interview in the Fargo, North Dakota, area. This region is called prairie pothole country for a reason. This time of year, many potholes are full of water.
The potholes were full on my home farm near Langford, South Dakota. Unfortunately, the wind chills that hovered near freezing on this day were not helping them dry.
It’s getting better, though. The next three photos pattern a worst, worser and worse line that former MSNBC broadcaster Keith Olbermann used to describe public figures. This is the Marshall-Brown County line a mile from my home farm in May 2011. The water-lapped ditches sum up flooding at its worst.
This scene from November 2012 gets upgraded to “worser”. Flooding still permeated this formerly productive farmland, but water was receding.
“Worse” summed up the situation last week, as water continues to slightly recede. I hope the situation improves to “much better” like the next set of slides.
In June 2011, Marshall County Highway 13—the road just north of my home farm that used to support pickups and farm implements—morphed into a thriving waterfowl, black fly, and mosquito haven due to flooding.
No more! The road is now passable and any waterfowl must fly to adjacent sloughs.
Even with receding waters, fieldwork is still a ways away. Snow still resides in the region’s ditches and shelterbelts.
This situation stretches into southestern North Dakota. This interstate marker for the Cass County towns of Oxbow and Davenport reveals the high waters that those farmers are facing.
There’s an upside to all this water, though. Last year subsoil moisture from previous flooding helped spawn banner crops amid scant summer rainfall. Last year’s drought has enabled some fields to swallow winter snowmelt and spring rains. Hopefully, waters on fields like these will soon recede so planting may commence.
Check out some of the extremes farmers have and continue to face in the northern Plains states.