The drought and hot summer weather have hit crops hard, according to Jeff Gale, Foster County Extension agent.

"It is not good," he said, "but there is a crop to harvest."

Gale anticipates the yields for the corn and soybean crops this fall could be between 50% and 60% of normal.

Foster County was classified as in exceptional drought in the U.S. Drought Monitor map issued Aug. 17. Exceptional drought is the highest level of drought severity in the Drought Monitor system. Gale said many areas of the county had received a couple of inches of rain since that date.

"That is more likely to help the soybeans than the corn," he said.

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Parts of Stutsman County face similar conditions, according to Alicia Harstad, Stutsman County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

"It depends on where you are at," she said. "Overall, it is kind of surprising how the crops look in some areas, but nobody is expecting a bumper crop."

The Drought Monitor map placed a small portion of northwest Stutsman County in exceptional drought with most of the county in extreme drought. The very southeast corner of the county had the lowest level of drought severity in the area although it was still classified as a severe drought there.

The effect of the drought conditions on corn yields has one of the major corn consumers in the area concerned, according to Phil Coffins, grain buyer for Midwest AgEnergy and its subsidiary Dakota Spirit AgEnergy at Spiritwood.

"We use local corn for processing," he said. "This will be the second year in a row of supply issues."

Prevented planting due to excessive water on the land reduced the corn crop in 2020, Coffins said.

"We survived on the leftovers from the previous year," he said. "Going into this fall, the cupboard is bare."

Much of the corn crop across North Dakota is also feeling the effects of drought, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The NASS report for Aug. 30 rated 47% of the corn crop in the state as poor or very poor. The service rated 37% of the crop as fair and 16% good.

None of the corn crop in North Dakota was rated as excellent by NASS.

Coffins said the variances in the quality of the crop make it difficult to know what to anticipate for a local supply of corn this fall.

"People tell me the best-looking corn, at least from the road, is right here around the Spiritwood plant," Coffins said. "How it will yield? We won't know that for a couple more weeks."

Coffins said Dakota Spirit AgEnergy can bring in rail shipments of corn from outside the area if there is not an adequate local supply.

"We want to use local corn," he said. "It is the best outcome for all of us."