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Dry Weather Affecting Crop, Dairy Farmers

Mar 31, 2023

(KNSI) – Area farmers are already relying on irrigation to keep crop progress on track.

University of Minnesota Local Extension Educator Tyler Rice says he went on a tour in Sherburne County last week. He says the farmers he talked with were in agreement that tapping groundwater already is unfortunate.

"The general consensus was that as irrigators they were pretty disappointed to have to turn on the pivots this early in the season and run them as long as they have — almost constantly."

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources requires a permit for any entity that uses more than one million gallons per year. Fees were increased in the most recent state budget. The DNR says the state's farmers applied over 81 billion gallons of water to farms in 2022.

Another story to watch is the possibility of local dairy farms scrambling for feed. Rice says normally corn is the first choice to use as a base for feed. Running through other forage crops, alfalfa is set for a limited first cutting due to a cold, wet spring. Rice says wild grasses will likely be the next thing considered.

"Those crops that we think about can generally tolerate drought pretty well. They grow well with high temperatures. Those would mostly be in the sorghum family."

Sorghum is used in the southern half of the country quite extensively, but has rarely been utilized here. Rice says turning to the wild grass would only happen in a last resort, emergency situation.


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