Good Question: What’s Worse: Drought Or Wet Summer?
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After a cool dry spring: the skies opened and haven’t let up. While much of the country is covered in drought conditions, Minnesota has been far wetter than normal. So, which is worse: a summer drought or a soggy summer?
“I personally think it’s a slam dunk the drought is far worse,” said Jeff Gunsolus, an agronomist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
“When (a crop is) really young, and it’s wet for too long, it can kill them if they’re under water,” said Gunsolus, but, “the nice thing about wet is it’s wet. If you have good soil, it’ll drain.”
So far in the summer of 2011, rainfall in the Twin Cities is 11.34 inches, according to the National Weather Service. That’s more than 2 inches above the average rainfall level.
The U.S. Agriculture Department rates 22 percent of Minnesota’s topsoil as having too much water. Clearly that’s a problem for farmers, but it’s not a huge problem this late in the growing season.
“I would say I’d rather be in this condition. Droughts go on and on and on. You never know when to put more fertilizer or pest control, because who knows it could burn up in front of your face. We need water to grow plants,” said Gunsolus.
It’s expensive to constantly irrigate crops, especially when you don’t know if the drought will end.
With too much water, “you’ll see spots out there with dead areas, then other parts look good, with a drought the whole place looks bad,” he said.
Even after all the rain, soybeans are close to being on track again. Also, the heat helped the corn catch up: 83 percent of the crop is silking. It should be 85 percent by this point in the summer.
“It’s really hard to control your resources agronomically when there’s a drought,” said Gunsolus.
Droughts are also terrible, if you happen to be a mosquito. According to the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, from 2006 to 2009, Twin Cities metro mosquito counts were far below average, and so was rainfall.
However, in 2009, rain returned to normal levels, as did the growth of mosquitoes.