LOS ANGELES, July 23 (Xinhua) -- The High Plain region of the United States, including state of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, is suffering the worst drought in decades, According to National Integrated Drought Information System.
Local Billings Gazette newspaper reported Sunday that the Montana farmers experienced the worst growing season in 30 years with few crops to harvest in the region and lots of unwanted livestock were headed to auction due to lacking of food and water.
On U.S. Drought Monitor maps, the Montana and Dakotas portion, where is the main production area of spring wheat in the country, was branded last week as "Exceptional Drought," meaning the most severe category.
The statistic showed that early this spring, about 17 percent of South Dakota, none of North Dakota, and less than two percent of Montana were in drought, but as of July 18, 2017, about 82 percent of South Dakota, 74 percent of North Dakota, and most of the eastern half of Montana were in moderate drought or worse. Extreme drought affects parts of North Dakota and Montana.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that Montana's losses in wheat production would be a 64 million bushel (1.74 million tons). Meanwhile, Durum, a specialty crop for Montana and North Dakota, was expected to be down by 45 percent from last year.
Crop damage in the region has contributed to strengthening spring wheat prices, the Billings Gazette reported earlier, cash prices for hard spring wheat crept above 8 U.S. dollars a bushel (0.29 U.S. dollars a kilogram) the week of July 4, up 65 percent since early May.
The Governor of Montana Steve Bullock declared a drought emergency in 19 counties in eastern Montana and two Native American reservations one month ago, requesting federal officials to make local agricultural producers eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency livestock and conservation assistance programs.