BISMARCK, N.D. — Drought in western North Dakota has eased significantly over the past week.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a reduction in extreme and exceptional drought from 19 percent to less than 4 percent, due to heavy rains. The northwestern corner of the state is the only area that remains in those categories of drought, which are the two worst.

Overall, 87 percent of North Dakota is in some stage of drought, down from 93 percent last week.

Seventy-two-percent of South Dakota is in some stage of drought, unchanged over the week. Areas in severe or extreme drought declined slightly, from 44 percent to 40 percent.

The federal Agriculture Department reports that South Dakota leads major-producing states in very poor to poor ratings for sorghum, corn and soybean crops.

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