U.S. Drought Monitor July 7, 2020

Rainfall in 2020 is more variable as compared to the last couple of years.

As of June 30, precipitation ranged from 30-50 percent of normal in west central Minnesota, to 70-90 percent in the southwest, and 90-110 percent in southeast Minnesota. Across northwest Minnesota, rainfall varied from 50-110 percent of normal.

For April 1-July 2, 2019, precipitation across the southern half of Minnesota was 125 percent of normal. Northwest Minnesota was 40-80 percent of normal at that point, but that changed dramatically in September with lots of rain.

Traveling across Minnesota in late June, University of Minnesota small grain specialist, Jochum Wiersma, saw significant differences in rainfall. He reported on this for the Fusarium Risk Tool website found at wheatscab.psu.edu.

“The predicted heat for the coming week combined with the forecast of scattered thunderstorms will likely mean that the risk of Fusarium headblight will remain high for varieties that are rated very susceptible or susceptible to the disease in those areas that already have adequate soil moisture,” he wrote on June 29.

At the time of his travels, he noted “very dry conditions” in the southern Red River Valley and west central Minnesota. Humid conditions were very noticeable, though.

In general, Minnesota is wetter than it used to be, although individual years are wetter or dryer than average.

“We look at the long-term records, and we’re seeing an increase of about 12 percent in total precipitation throughout the state,” said Luigi Romolo, state climatologist.

Dryness continues across the state in 2020, particularly with abnormal dryness (D0) to moderate drought (D1) from west central to northwest Minnesota.

Romolo added that from 1895-2016, the state has experienced a 10 percent increase in growing season precipitation.

“That is driven by about a 50 percent increase in the spring, but we are seeing an increase in all seasons,” he said. “This year is not as wet as the past couple of years – but that can change.”

He added that “mega-rains” of 4-6 inches are much more prevalent now than before 2000.

“Those can occur in a dry summer,” he said. “Those can occur in a very wet summer. The more they occur, the wetter the summer will get. Those types of anomalies are going to drive the total precipitation in the summertime.”

Minnesota Ag Stats reported that as of July 5, good-to-excellent conditions included: barley, 76 percent; corn, 85 percent; dry beans, 84 percent; hay, 62 percent; oats, 68 percent; pasture and range, 62 percent; potatoes, 90 percent; soybeans, 83 percent; spring wheat, 77 percent; sugarbeets, 95 percent, and sunflowers, 74 percent good-to-excellent.