Is the Drought Really Over?

Is the Drought Really Over?

April 26, 2024

Concerned and supportive friends and clients have recently inquired about the soil moisture as we begin working the ground for another season. Many local news channels have been talking about how "the drought is over," showing the map from the U.S. Drought Monitor, and according to the map, the drought is over.

While the map may say the drought is over, we have a different feeling about it because in our opinion, it’s just not that simple. In reality, the precipitation we received this winter in the form of wet snow and rain was extremely helpful in replenishing some of the subsoil moisture levels as the ground was not frozen solid. This allowed the moisture to soak into the ground.

We feel this has allowed us to start the season with an adequate amount of moisture in the soil, slightly ahead of the last few years. A positive in our books.

So, it's over ... right?

That makes many folks assume that is that the drought is over. In reality though, this is a very complicated assumption.

For the last three years, we have been in a water deficit situation, but have been able to limp through the growing season with timely receipts of rainfall. This has barely kept Minnesota farmers “alive” and by no means has moved the needle to a situation of adequate or long term replenishment needed to comfortably say the drought has been broken.

And even now, we hesitate to believe that enough moisture has been replenished to prepare crops for another summer of extreme heat and little rainfall if that were to be the case.

No One Knows the Future

When we say the situation is relatively complicated, first of all, we must acknowledge that no one knows the future. Whether it be adequate rainfall, cooler than normal temperatures, or drying wind speeds, no one can predict what the season is going to bring in terms of growing conditions.

Changes are occurring so rapidly in the field of meteorology that many people assume we know and understand more than we really do.

Take for instance the El Niño and La Niña phenomena that are beginning to be used in many long-term forecasting models. While we enjoy studying and noting people’s perceptions, we must realize that these models are not necessarily actuality, only human beings' beliefs and studies.

So, while that may be a long answer to the short question, "is the drought over"? We really don’t know and we prefer to plan our growing and planting strategies based on caution and the little bit in agriculture we can control.

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