Drought forcing farmers in the Dakotas to make difficult decisions

Statewide drought emergency declared in North Dakota.

The drought situation in the Dakotas grew more dire over the past week as significant rainfall continued to miss the hardest hit drought areas. While the second full week of April brings the hopes of wetter-than-normal conditions to parts of the drought-stricken areas, a lot more precipitation will be needed to put an appreciable dent in the drought. Meanwhile, after a blast of summer to start April, much colder air descends on the northern Plains and across much of the Corn Belt by mid-April.

The period of January to March 2021 was the driest in 126 years for North Dakota. Farmers are starting to make difficult decisions on planting and culling herds as the governor of the state declared a statewide drought disaster on April 8. Soil moistures across the state, particularly in western portions of North Dakota, are lacking sufficient moisture to sustain normal crop development growth. The first eight days of April 2021 offered little help as hot, summer-like temperatures, gusty winds, and low humidity across the state accelerated drying conditions. This was the third warmest start to April in over 30 years for North Dakota according to data from WeatherTrends360.

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Moving forward into the second full week of April, there will be several chances of precipitation across the northern Plains. However, persistent and substantial rainfall will be needed to improve drought conditions in the Dakotas. Unfortunately, persistence will be lacking in the precipitation pattern as drier conditions are expected to return by mid-April 2021. Colder temperatures will help to slow down the drying of soils in the northern Plains but may slightly slow down planting progress in the Plains and to the south.

After summer-like temperatures to start April 2021, the mercury will drop considerably as we move into the mid-April period. There will be a threat of a frost or freeze event even into the Corn Belt. Snow showers will also be a possibility, especially in the northern Plains and Upper Midwest according to WeatherTrends360. The change to colder weather will also cause soil temperatures to dip a bit across the northern and central Plains heading into mid-April.

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