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Drought a concern heading into spring in South Dakota

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:27 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Drought concerns are on the minds of many going into planting season. While much of the region has been dryer than normal lately, parts of southeastern South Dakota are experiencing the worst of it.

Farmers like Dave Poppens are monitoring conditions closely, hoping to see some moisture.

“Usually if it’s dryer we’ll plant the crop as normal because it will be dryer conditions, but then as the season goes along and it stays dry then the crop doesn’t grow and fill out the way it should, so you lose the yield with the lack of moisture,” said Poppens.

SDSU Extension State Climatologist, Laura Edwards says the current drought monitor shows parts of southeastern South Dakota in severe, even extreme drought.

Drought monitor as of Feb. 22nd
Drought monitor as of Feb. 22nd(Dakota News Now)

“We’ve been so accustomed to kind of weather conditions in the southeastern part of the state. We haven’t seen this kind of drought since the 2012 drought that kind of carried over into 2013,” said Edwards.

She says a lot of the problem comes from the warm temperatures in the late summer into December and January.

It may not feel like it’s that dry right now due to recent snowfall. However, Edwards says the snow only provides a limited amount of relief.

“Soils are frozen, so it can’t take up the moisture very well, and the snow kind of sits there and stays there on the surface,” said Edwards.

Because the soil is dryer right now that could affect planting season for farmers and gardeners.

“Concerned about the subsoil moisture, we’re going to be short of that the way it is now. We’re going to need some timely rains going into the spring,” said Poppens.

Only time will tell if the moisture does come. Right now, Edwards says data doesn’t look too promising.

“As we look further ahead into April, May, and June into the summer, odds are leaning towards warmer than average for that time of year,” said Edwards.

SDSU Extension has created a drought task force that will monitor the situation as we head into the spring and summer.

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