While the western half of the state remains in moderate drought and the eastern side is abnormally dry, the state is deactivating its drought monitor map at the end of the month.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said the map was an invaluable tool for farmers throughout the state during the growing season, and was viewed nearly 11,000 times.

“We were pleased to see the Drought Hotline interactive map become an invaluable asset for drought-affected North Dakota farmers and ranchers, who used it to help find those selling and donating hay, and to provide some relief to their operations,” he said. 

The Drought Hotline interactive map was launched in June, when much of the state was experiencing extreme and exceptional drought conditions. By August, all but two of North Dakota’s counties were listed at some level of drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor, and many producers said it was the worst since the 1980s.

The Department of Agriculture website aimed to help growers and producers connect with people who could help them through a tough spot, and had an immediate, positive response, Goehring said. 

“The nice thing about the interactive map was that it gave producers the ability to click any listing and directly contact people in regards to their needs,” Goehring said.

In all, the map had participants from 33 states and two Canadian provinces with 345 producers offering hay for sale and 65 wanting to donate it. The site also listed 60 people with hayland, pasture or feedlots available, 37 available to haul hay, and 25 who had Conservation Reserve Program acres.

Information from the map will still be available for public use by contacting the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, Goehring added.

Only 5 percent of the state is now listed in severe drought, and no areas are extreme any more. Western North Dakota is still in moderate drought, and the east is still abnormally dry, because of unseasonably warm temperatures and below-normal precipitation the past 30 to 60 days.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this is the fourth driest October-through-November period on record.

Meanwhile, in Montana, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for portions of northeastern Montana due to strong winds and low humidity, which has created a high danger of fire. 

Sparks or open flames may rapidly spread throughout the grasslands.

The lack of snow cover and warm temperatures are also raising concerns for the region’s winter wheat crop.

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