By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s dry weather is causing concern for many Minnesota farmers, including those who depend on a hay crop for their live stock.

“This here was cut four weeks ago and it has not done anything,” said Dennis Middendorf while pointing at his alfalfa field. “It would be knee-high if it had enough water.”

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With 140 dairy cows on his farm near Melrose, Middendorf relies on alfalfa hay for feed. And like many Minnesotans watching their front yards dry up, he’s watching his field do the same.

“Every time they talk about rain, it’s missing. It seems like it gets to the county line and stops for some reason,” said Middendorf. “We’ve had maybe two inches of rain since April 10.”

Typically Middendorf is able to cut his alfalfa four times during a growing season. So far this year, he’s only cut it once.

The problem is widespread and could lead to a hay shortage in the Midwest.

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In North Dakota, drought is killing the hay crop and ranchers are struggling to feed their cattle. They’ll look to Minnesota farmers for help, if they have anything to offer.

“Beef herds, like my neighbor over there, he said if I don’t get rain I’m going to have to downsize,” said Middendorf. “You could throw all the money at us from the government or whatever but it’s not going to help when there is no hay.”

Middendorf is getting by with hay left over from last year, but he’s worried other farmers who’ve been breaking even, may not make it without rain. Crunchy fields and pastures with little to show, could eventually impact prices at the grocery store.

“In ’88 it was bad. I worked off the farm when I graduated high school and it was just like this. It was terrible,” said Middendorf.

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On the flip side, Middendorf said all it takes is one, good rainfall to get things started. Last year in Stearns County it was dry until July then the rains came. They’re hoping this July brings similar luck.

John Lauritsen