Fall rains offer insurance for spring
FARGO - Though the folks who needed it most came up short, recent rains should benefit many area farmers and ranchers next spring.
The precipitation is rebuilding soil moisture and could help many fields and pastures get off to a good start in 2009.
"It's always good to have some moisture going into the next year," said Mark Huseth, a McLeod, N.D., rancher and president of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association.
Winter snowfall and spring rains will have a bigger impact on crops and pastures, but fall rains provide some insurance if winter and spring doesn't provide enough moisture, he said.
Most of the region received significant precipitation in September.
- Fargo received 5.08 inches, 2.90 inches more than usual.
- Williston received 1.64 inches, 0.29 of an inch above average.
- Bismarck received 2.46 inches. 0.85 of an inch above average.
Thanks to the fall rains, much of North Dakota and western Minnesota now is free of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a Lincoln, Neb.-based project involving academics and state and national experts.
In contrast, most of the region was short of moisture in late August, according to the organization.
Despite the generally wet September, the western third of North Dakota missed out on most of the rain and remains dangerously dry.
"Fall rains? What fall rains? We've just had a few small showers pass through," said Kurt Froelich, a North Dakota State University Extension agent in Dickinson, N.D.
His area began the growing season in drought and remains that way, he said.
However, forecasters predicted up to 10 inches of snow in southwestern North Dakota.
Forecasts also called for weekend rain in the Red River Valley.
"Farmers in the Red River Valley don't need any more moisture now" after receiving significant rain in September, said North Dakota State Climatologist Adnan Akyuz.
That's particularly true since the cool spring slowed the growth of corn and soybeans and has delayed their harvest this fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.