Minnesota’s worst drought in a decade likely to impact gas products and prices – WCCO
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It has been nine years since drought conditions in Minnesota were this bad.
More than half of the state is subject to severe or extreme drought conditions, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Drought Monitor. That’s about 40% earlier this month.
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Pete Boulay, deputy state climatologist at DNR, says the 2012 drought lasted more than a year, while our current drought is only in its fourth month.
“We have a lot of water in the ground in the first two feet, so this comparison to 2012 is where we lost a lot of water in the ground,” Boulay said.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture commissioner Thom Petersen said the state is currently going through a drought and excessive heat crisis.
“It’s really frustrating every morning to see this and to know that our farmers are feeling the same way,” said Petersen. “Every day we hope for rain and hope things get better.”
READ MORE: Minneapolis faces possible water restrictions in drought conditions
Minnesota’s agricultural economy is diverse and relies on both crops and livestock. But crops and grass can struggle to grow in these conditions, which is a problem Carla Mertz feels keenly on her breeding farm, Iron Shoe Farm, in Sherburne County.
“Our pastures are pretty barren, which means we really don’t have anything to eat for the cattle,” Mertz said. “We’re not getting the consistent weight gain they need.”
Petersen says apple orchards, the fruits and vegetables at your local farmers’ market, and pumpkin fields this fall could all suffer.
As he and Governor Tim Walz advocate for federal aid and resources, Petersen urges water conservation. He says shorter showers and less lawn watering, for example, can make a difference for everyone.
It is possible that drought conditions are also having an impact on gasoline pump prices. WCCO spoke with an oil and gas expert who said if corn yields in the country were affected by this weather, gas prices could rise in the future.
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The state needs at least 5 extra inches of rain over a few weeks to really see an improvement in the drought.