The year of 2017 started out promising for North Dakota according to Oliver County extension agent Rick Schmidt.
"We had a lot of snow last year and everyone was expecting we were going to be off to a great start. By the first of May, we knew we were in trouble,” said Schmidt.
But, farmers and ranchers will remember the year by one word: drought.
"Next year, if we're anywhere near this dry, we're going to be selling an awful lot more cattle than what we had to experience in 2017,” said Schmidt.
In August, more than 44 percent of the state was in an extreme drought or worse. Rain in the late summer into early fall improved the condition some, but much of the state is still in drought. Our meteorologist Kevin Lawrence looked at the data to see if next year will be better.
"Going into the winter season, we still have a severe drought on our hands and that's probably not going to change for a while to come. But the outlook through late March, really before the growing season starts, not faring so well here for the Northern Plains. We will likely continue to see drought conditions,” said Lawrence.
"Those plants can handle it for one year. The second year, we're going to have to maybe delay turnout. So maybe we're not going to be turning cows out May 15 but June 15,” said Schmidt.
Leaving farmers and ranchers at the mercy of mother nature again. The current drought monitor shows that 60 percent of North Dakota is still in a drought, but no areas are listed as extreme drought.