Jun 22, 2017

Extreme drought hits northeast Montana, has farmers praying for rain

Glasgow, MT
USA
by
Tom Lutey
,
The Billings Gazette
Grazing land in southern Valley County is dried and lifeless as northeast Montana experiences one of its worst droughts in decades. Photo: National Weather Service, Glasgow
Grazing land in southern Valley County is dried and lifeless as northeast Montana experiences one of its worst droughts in decades. Photo: National Weather Service, Glasgow

Northeastern Montana is in extreme drought as one of the state’s largest wheat-producing regions sees little rain.

Farmers across a 200-mile swath of the northeastern part of the state have seen just a half-inch of rain in the past two months. This trend after scant winter snows has farmers from Jordan to Plentywood nervous about the 2017 harvest.

“It looks like August and September here already,” said Tanja Fransen, meteorologist for the National Weather Service station in Glasgow.

In these parts, August and September range from harvest gold to parched brown. Drive by any field currently and you can see between the crop rows, farmers say.

Near St. Marie, there are fields seeded late this spring where nothing is poking up from the soil because there hasn’t been enough water for seeds to germinate.

There's nothing green to nibble on in the south Valley County grazing land near Glasgow.

“We’ve had probably about an inch of rain since April first and the last one was under a quarter-inch,” said Terry Angvick, who farms near Reserve, about 31 miles south of Canada and 25 miles from the North Dakota line.