April's wintry weather freezes spring planting
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Mother Nature hasn't cooperated so far this spring with the crop planting schedule in South Dakota as current ground conditions is delaying local planting for another week to 10 days.|
However, that's based on good weather, and weather forecasters are expecting another winter-like blast to move across the Upper Great Plains this week.
Larry Wagner, an Extension Service agronomist in Sioux Falls, said last week's snow, sleet and cold had "pushed things back a bit" in regard to farmers getting into their fields.
"In our part of the state, we're right now looking at about 10 days for conditions to become workable," Wagner said. "What's difficult is that they're expecting the same sort of storm this week."
The current forecast from the National Weather Service has a storm front arriving in the Lake County area on Tuesday night, laying down about 1 inch of new snow. Then from Wednesday through Thursday night the possibility of another 5 inches of snow could accumulate with daytime temperatures rising to just above freezing until the weekend.
"Last year, we were planting by now," Wagner said. "Another storm this week will push things closer to the beginning of May."
The typical start date for corn planting in South Dakota is May 1, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. The most active time for field work for corn planting runs from May 9-25. The typical start date for soybean planting is May 10 with the most active planting time in the soybean fields running from May 20 to June 6.
And while last week's blizzard left several inches of snow and sleet across Lake County, conditions are tougher farther north in Brown County. Mark Rosenberg, an Extension Service agronomist in Aberdeen, reported that the area had received about 11 inches of snow last weekend. Rosenberg said spring planting in northern South Dakota was currently estimated to start in 14 days.
It's not enough for the snow to melt; the ground temperature has to warm up to 50 degrees for the grain seeds to have optimum conditions to germinate and sprout.
"We really need those temperatures to get to 50 degrees if we want quick emergence in the fields," Rosenberg said.
Wagner said the weather information that he's received indicates that the air temperatures this spring have remained about 20 degrees below normal. However, he added that if the sun has an opportunity to warm up the air and ground, "conditions can make a comeback pretty fast."
According to Wagner, the current moisture in southeastern South Dakota soil is enough to give crops a good start.
"Short term is good, but long term we'll need more to recharge things," he said.
If 2013's growing season offers average rainfall to fields in the state, crops should perform well. However, Wagner said that average rainfall this summer won't replenish the soil moisture deficit that has lingered from 2012's drought.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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