March chill not expected to hamper Aberdeen-area farmers

Farm Forum

The seventh coldest March on record and one of the drier ones was bad news for farmers, but it shouldn’t set them back too far, an agronomist said.

“Right now, we are just waiting for the snow to melt,” said David Clark, agronomist and Northern sales manager for Wheat Growers. “It will be enough moisture to get things started, but we are going to need timely rains all summer long because the subsoil is so dry.”

Aberdeen had only 1.9 inches of snow and a total of 0.24 inch of precipitation in March, said Scott Doering, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Aberdeen. On average, Aberdeen gets 7.2 inches of snow and 1.16 inches of precipitation in March.

The city, however, had a decent amount of snow going into the month. For the year, it has had 41 inches of snow, slightly above the 38-inch average, Doering said.

The average temperature for March was 19.8 degrees, the seventh coldest in Aberdeen since 1896, when record keeping began, Doering said. There was little chance for snow to melt, but snowdrifts receded recently when temperatures reached into the 40s.

The average temperature in March 2012, the second warmest in Aberdeen, was 43.8, he said.

Last year, farmers were in the field at this time tilling and fertilizing. There still, however, is plenty of time to catch up this year, Clark said.

Most farmers never plant corn before April 15 in this area because crop insurance plans prohibit it. Most farmers don’t plant soybeans until after May 1.

The snow on the ground won’t be a big problem, but it does make the window narrower for getting all the fertilizing and tilling completed, Clark said.

“We certainly have had later springs before,” he said.

What is most needed is rain, he said. Northeast South Dakota escaped the worst part of last year’s drought, but dry conditions are widespread.

The weather outlook for April is for temperatures to be below normal and precipitation to be at or above normal, Doering said.