Farmers hoping weather roulette pays in rain

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MERCER COUNTY, N.D. - Northern North Dakota is struggling for rain.

North Dakota agriculture isn't for the faint of heart, but even the veterans are wondering what each day will bring.

Areas near Minot need about 5 inches of rain to catch up. Other areas just south of Lake Sakakawea are playing weather roulette.

Friday was the first time in three weeks rain fell on Dean Knell's farm fields.

Before the rainfall, when Dean Knell scrapes topsoil away from his corn plants, all he's finding is dirt and no moisture.

"You could tell that some of the plants were starting to get stressed and we're at a point now in the plant development where stress on them is really tough,” said Knell.

The same goes for his barley and his soybeans. Three weeks without rain is tough but his luck changed Friday.

"We're real pleased with the plant stands and I think we have a lot to be thankful for. It's just going to take some timely rains right now,” said Knell.

Friday's spotty showers won't solve the problem long term, but it's better than nothing.

"Any time we get a prolonged period of dryness, we get a little bit nervous and we're just not sure when it's going to end,” said Knell.

Knell says he's pushed out above average yields when the rain has been below average because of the timing. He says one silver lining to the dry weather is he hasn't had to deal with any diseases coming after his crops.