MARSHALL - Wednesday night's rain brought much needed relief for the corn and soybean crops in the region but does not mean the drought is over, according to the National Weather Service.
"It was a tremendous help and gives some hope," said Bryan Smith, manager of CENTROL Crop Consultants. "August is a very important month for soy, when the seeds develop. Corn will finally stabilize and not go backwards anymore."
According to Smith, corn, which is more vulnerable to drought than soy, had lost ground in terms of yield because of the lack of moisture needed to fill out the kernels. Though conditions vary widely because of soil type throughout the region, Smith suggested the yields could vary from 80 to 160 bushels per acre.
Parking lots in Marshall filled up with rainwater for the first time in months Wednesday, as 1.68 inches of rain fell in town.
Soil moisture deficits vary according to whether soils are heavy clay that retains moisture, or sandy which allows moisture to drain through rapidly.
"The rain bought us some time, but it was very spotty," said Ron Madsen, engineering tech with the Lincoln County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Time is what the region needs, and more rain.
"By no means is the drought over in the southwest corner of the state," said Mike Griesinger, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen.
According to Griesinger, on the four-stage drought scale of moderate to exceptional, the area including Lyon, Lincoln, and Yellow Medicine counties has been upgraded from moderate to severe, and Rock County to extreme.
"In the past 90 days since May 1, the percentage of rainfall in the area has been near normal, because May was so wet," Griesinger said. "But in the past 60 days, since June 1, the rainfall in the southwest region has been five to 25 percent of normal, the driest in the state."
Lyon and Yellow Medicine counties have fared better, with a rainfall average of 25 to 50 percent of normal, according to Griesinger. Marshall also got 1.68 inches of rain on Wednesday night, the highest amount in the region. However, the distribution was very uneven across the area, with Minneota getting 1.44 inches and Canby only 0.12 inches of rain.