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Finally, some rain for farmers in Minnesota, but they need more

Wednesday's rainfall was welcome news for farmers, who've been dealing with a long drought.

SCANDIA, Minn. — Bruce Nelson wakes up every day and prays for rain at his Big Marine Country Farms, located about 40 miles northeast of the Twin Cities.

It's been a rough summer so far, with his geographic area in Minnesota categorized as "moderate drought" territory. 

"We haven't had hardly any rain since I planted back in May. I think the first six weeks we planted, we hardly got a drop," Nelson said. "I'm thinking, 'I'm done. I'm done.'"

On Wednesday, his fortunes changed - a little bit, at least.

Most of the Twin Cities metro area saw at least some precipitation, with Nelson's area near Scandia receiving about a half-inch.

"Every drop of rain helps," Nelson said, "and I’m not complaining at all." 

But dig a little deeper - literally, not figuratively - and you'll see that farmers like Nelson need plenty more rain this summer to stay afloat. 

Nelson showed KARE 11 the "powder dry" subsoil under his crops, still stubbornly persisting despite the rainfall earlier in the day. Although Nelson has been pleasantly surprised by some of the growth in his pumpkins and squash, his corn has fallen behind, with as many as three acres possibly at risk because of the dry conditions.

"You can see all this stuff," Nelson said, "it's just now coming up out of the ground."

The 73-year-old Nelson, who started farming in his fifties after retiring from a previous career, said the revenue from his farm primarily supports his grandchildren's college fund. However, he said he feels particularly bad for those in other areas of the state -- especially Western Minnesota -- where the drought conditions in 2021 are considered "severe."

“I’ve got some friends in the Red River Valley, and those people are hurting out there. Western Minnesota, they’re hurting. I’ve got my son’s father-in-law over in Wisconsin, there are already guys over there plowing their corn over because they’re gonna get nothing," Nelson said. "Those people who make their living off the land and need to make their house payment, equipment payment, those people are struggling. My heart goes out to them. I know it can't get more difficult than that."

So Nelson will keep praying for rain every morning. 

"I don't know. I just don't know," he said. "We'll see what mother nature tells us."

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