Lack of rainfall may impact Minnesota, Iowa farmers differently this harvest season

Lack of rainfall in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa has many wondering about the upcoming harvest, including how pumpkins have fared through the drought.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 8:32 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2022 at 8:46 PM CDT
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NEW ULM, Minn. (KEYC) - Lack of rainfall in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa has many wondering about the upcoming harvest, including how pumpkins have fared through the drought.

We’re already about an inch below average in rainfall as we head into the harvest season.

“We’ve been a little worse earlier this summer, so we did make up some rain throughout the month of August, which is fantastic. But starting a month below normal means that we have to play catch up before we can get above normal,” KEYC Meteorologist Caitlyn Lorr explained.

But some farmers are faring better than they did last year.

“Last year was a whole different story,” said Tim Gulden, owner and operator at Gulden Family Farms. “I had a near entire crop failure. It’s amazing the difference that just some different soil and a season can make when you have similar conditions, but some folks weren’t as lucky as me.

“Other farmers in the area had too much moisture earlier on out near Waseca and heavier ground will result in the crop essentially rotting in the ground before it comes up and having a failure on the other side of the spectrum.”

It can also lead to early harvesting, where plants might not have the ability to grow to their fullest potential, or on the other side, a late harvest and facing a deep freeze.

“So I’m very thankful that this year, [with] the lack of rainfall, I was somewhat lucky with my pumpkin crop, so it’s looking to be a pretty good one this time around,” Gulden said.

However, other well-loved aspects of autumn are also affected by our continuing drought conditions.

“For example, fall - it’s not just our crops but like the changing color of the leaves and that lack of water can prevent or prolong those beautiful fall colors that we like to look for once October and November start to roll around,” Lorr explained.

Even if we were to get inches of rain in a day, we’d need prolonged rainfall to bring us back up to speed.