Northeast S.D. suffering drought conditions

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Farm Forum

The U.S. Drought Monitor confirmed on Aug. 29 what farmers already knew – northeast South Dakota is having a drought.

Crops have taken a beating with temperatures in the 90s five out of the past seven days in Aberdeen.

“I hate to be a pessimist, but it is looking pretty bleak,” said David Clark, agronomist for Wheat Growers. “It is so disappointing when the crops have good early season growth and they burn up in August.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor rates 10 area counties as experiencing D-1 moderate drought: Brown, Spink, Marshall, Day, Clark, Roberts, Grant, Codington, Hamlin and Deuel. The eastern parts of McPherson, Edmunds and Faulk also are rated D-1. Previously, northeast South Dakota was rated abnormally dry.

While the wheat crop was harvested before the heat wave, corn and soybeans in the field are hurting.

“We are going to have below-average crops in Brown, Spink, Edmunds and McPherson,” Clark said. “Right now, we are looking at maybe 100 bushel-an-acre corn and 20- to 25-bushel beans.”

The statewide average yield is 130.4 bushels an acre for corn and 36.2 bushels an acre for soybeans, according the the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Services five-year average.

Aberdeen recorded one-tenth of an inch of rain on Aug. 28, but that did not put a dent in drought conditions, said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension climate field specialist.

Precipitation in Aberdeen for the month of August was .34 inch. The average rainfall in August is 2.43 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

On Aug. 28, rain brought some relief to isolated parts of the region. Spink County received up to 1.25 inches of rain. Redfield recorded .86 inch.

Western Faulk County had 3 to 4 inches of rain, Edwards said.

“Some of the area got relief, but, overall, the rain was spotty,” she said. “The thunderstorms in Spink County, accompanied by small hail, also caused some damage.”

Areas west of Aberdeen, such as Mina, are in worse shape than conditions east of Aberdeen, Clark said.

“Across the whole area, there are pockets where they are chopping corn for silage,” he said.

Clark, who travels the area for Wheat Growers, said he has seen farmers chopping silage west of Northville, north of Frederick and near Andover.

While some of those farmers may have planned to chop silage for livestock feed, others are doing it because the corn has stopped developing. Farmers chopping silage are doing it sooner than normal, because they want some moisture content, he said.

The drought is having an affect on rivers, such as the Elm, where Aberdeen gets its water supply, Edwards said.

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