Spared by drought, growers help farmers to the west

GRAND FORKS — As the drought in western North Dakota spreads throughout the state, the Grand Forks region’s continued healthy land is becoming a lifeline for lands being deemed in emergency states by federal authorities.
The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows Grand Forks and Nelson are the only counties in the state not considered to be somewhere on the drought scale.
"This drought, especially in our county, has been so sporadic," Haugen said.
Grand Forks County is home to about 74,000 acres of CRP land and is within 150 miles of affected areas, making the acreage available for farmers and ranchers in need.
A farmer in Grand Forks County might receive a call from someone out west, who will ask permission to hay CRP land, Miller said.
Grand Forks farmer Paul Sproule received such a call last week, and said the application has been completed and the western North Dakota rancher will come soon to collect the hay.
Fargo is currently 4.8 inches below its typical annual rainfall, Gust said, and 2.65 inches below normal since June 1.
The eastern portion of North Dakota is less susceptible to drought conditions, Gust said, largely because of clay-based soil and about 6 inches more in annual rainfall.
"We can go a couple inches below normal on this (eastern) part of the state and not notice it," he said.
Miller said about another inch of rain in the next couple weeks would put Grand Forks farmers in a good spot.

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