Would rain help or hurt?: On balance, it’s needed

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It's a truism of Upper Midwest agriculture that nature can't provide August weather to please all farmers. Dry conditions benefit small-grain harvest but work against soybeans and other late-planted crops, while the rain showers that help still-developing crops complicate combining wheat and other small grains.

But most area farmers, especially ones who grow more than small grains, would welcome rain this August. Many fields across the area are getting dry, and deteriorating crops need moisture.

The weekly crop progress report, reflecting conditions on Aug. 5 and released Monday, Aug.6, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows that crops overall have gone downhill in early August.

Soybeans

Soybeans are among the crops most affected.

On Aug. 5, 73 percent of North Dakota soybeans was rated good or excellent, with 22 percent fair and 5 percent poor or very poor. A week earlier, 82 percent were in good or excellent condition, 15 percent fair and 3 percent poor or very poor.

In South Dakota, 65 percent of soybeans were rated good or excellent on Aug. 5, with 25 percent fair and 10 percent poor or very poor. A week earlier, 69 percent were in good or excellent shape, with 24 percent fair and 7 percent poor or very poor.

Minnesota soybeans have held up a little better overall, but they've gone backward, too. Seventy-four percent were in good or excellent condition on Aug. 5, with 19 percent fair and 7 percent poor or very poor. A week earlier, 75 percent were rated good or excellent, 19 percent fair and 6 percent poor or very poor.

Spring wheat

The generally dry conditions have helped small grains harvest.

In Montana, 8 percent of spring wheat was harvested on Aug. 5. No spring wheat had been harvested a week earlier, according to the crop progress report.

In South Dakota, 52 percent of spring wheat was harvested on Aug. 5, up from 35 percent a week earlier.

In North Dakota, 8 percent of spring wheat was harvested on Aug. 5, up from 1 percent a week earlier.

In Minnesota, 13 percent of spring wheat was harvested on Aug. 5, up from 1 percent a week earlier.

Substantial progress also was made harvesting oats and barley, according to the new report.

Corn

The overall condition of corn, one of the region's three major crops (spring wheat and soybeans are the other two), has slipped, too.

In Minnesota, 77 percent of corn was rated good or excellent on Aug. 5, with 16 percent fair and 7 percent poor or very poor. A week earlier, 79 percent was in good or excellent condition, with 15 percent fair and 6 percent poor or very poor.

In North Dakota, 85 percent of corn was rated good or excellent on Aug. 5, with 13 percent fair and 2 percent poor or very poor. A week earlier, 90 percent was in good or excellent shape, with 9 percent fair and 1 percent poor or very poor.

In South Dakota, 70 percent of corn was in good or excellent condition on Aug. 5, with 23 percent fair and 7 percent poor or very poor. A week earlier, 75 percent was rated good or excellent, with 19 percent fair and 6 percent poor or very poor.