MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Drought conditions have worsened significantly across Minnesota in the last week, according to an update from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The state is now experiencing “extreme” drought conditions. While it’s a small area, about 4% of the state, it’s the first time the state has experienced extreme conditions since April 2013.

Notably, although the drought map was released on Thursday, it was created before Wednesday’s rainfall. It includes rain that fell through 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The National Drought Mitigation Center defines extreme conditions as:

– Corn is harvested early; emergency haying and grazing are authorized
– Wildfires are widespread
– Surface waters are near record lows

Moderate and severe drought areas have also expanded, with 98% of the state in at least a moderate drought, up 5% from last week. And 52% of the state is in at least a severe drought, up 12%.

The dry conditions have prompted Gov. Tim Walz to request assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to aid farmers experiencing drought.

“Agriculture is the past, present, and future of Minnesota’s economy. We must do everything we can to address the challenges our farmers and ranchers are facing due to the severe drought conditions plaguing our state. That’s why I’m asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture for assistance,” Walz said.

Walz asked that Minnesota farmers be allowed emergency grazing and haying on land that’s been set aside for conservation as part of the Conservation Reserve Program. The emergency grazing and haying would be allowed only in areas experiencing severe drought or worse.

Mike Augustyniak