September rains slow harvest

by David Hill

If you thought September was wetter than normal, you’re right. In its Weather and Climate Review, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D., said the precipitation total of 9.07 inches at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks set a new September record. Although it may have seemed cooler as well, the September average temperature was slightly above average – about 1.4 degrees above the average.

The Pennington Soil and Water Conservation  District collects precipitation totals from 20 individuals across the county. As of Oct. 2, only two had reported for the month of September. Tom Molskness in Sanders Township reported receiving 10.34 inches of precipitation. Warren Hermreck in Bray Township reported 9.26 inches during the month of September.

Bill Craig, University of Minnesota Extension Service ag services director in Pennington County, said he had heard the county received a half-year supply of moisture in September.

According to, the average annual precipitation for Pennington County is 20.71 inches.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the situation, some farmers were able to harvest some of the small grains before the rains started but many weren’t. Craig said there’s still quite a bit of wheat and soybeans in the fields. He guessed that about 20 percent of wheat in the eastern part of the county was still in the field as of last week.

At this point, Craig said, with falling numbers and poor quality, the University of Minnesota is recommending that farmers move that grain through their system as soon as possible, and to not blend it with good quality wheat because it could create worse problems. They should also contact their insurance agents to find out exactly what they need to do.

The cash price for wheat right now is $4.61, which is about 30 to 40 cents below normal.

In Pennington County, wheat and soybeans take up most of the planted acres.

Craig said it has been a tough fall for the farmers and not too much harvesting is going on right now.
As far as soybeans, Craig said it’s hard to tell at this point. He suspects there will be some good and some bad.

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that during the week ending Sept. 29, 2019, warm weather and somewhat dry conditions allowed for 3.9 days suitable for fieldwork in Minnesota.
According to the Agricultural Statistics Service, statewide, spring wheat harvested had reached 97 percent, nearly one month behind last year and 11 days behind average. Corn dented or beyond was 88 percent, 116 days behind last year and two weeks behind the five-year average. Dry edible beans dropping leaves or beyond reached 97 percent, on par with the average. (More information about that report can be found at

Accumulated Precipitation maps in that same report, however, show that precipitation for northwest Minnesota was above normal.

As far as high impact weather goes, in September 2019, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks issued 73 Severe Warnings. Last year (in September 2018), the NWS in Grand Forks issued 17 severe thunderstorm warnings.

Climate Prediction
The latest Climate Prediction Center temperature and precipitation outlooks for October in most of eastern North Dakota and the northwest quarter of Minnesota are calling for equal chances for above, normal or below normal temperatures and higher probabilities for above normal precipitation.

What are “normal” temperatures in October? Normal or average temperatures in October are, for example, 61 for a high in Red Lake Falls and a low of 38 at the beginning of October, and 45 for a high and 27 for a low on Oct. 31.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center “experimental unofficial long-lead forecasts” call for above average temperatures through November and possibly into December. The forecast calls for a 50-50 chance of above or below normal temperatures for the region beginning in January and through May.

The precipitation forecast is calling for above average snow from January through February and possibly into March.


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