Recent rainfall could delay crop harvest

After providing a welcome respite from extreme weather in the Vermillion area, Mother Nature decided to make her presence known again.
Vermillion started the summer off with the two wettest months in history as the city received 19.25 inches of rain.

The rainfall seemed to slow down in August and September, but the rain clouds reared their ugly heads once again as Vermillion received 4.59 inches of rain in a two day period on Sept. 23 and 24.

Precipitation totals varied throughout Vermillion.

"The two-day combination was 4.59 inches, but we got different totals from one side of town to another by about an inch to two," said Kyle Weisser, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. "Some places varied because parts of town got more hail than rain."

Even the size of the hail differed in parts of town. Golf ball sized hail was the typical variety, but tennis ball to softball sized hail was reportedly found on the roof of Vermillion's middle school.

According to local media reports, Walmart had a number of sky lights knocked out because of the hail.

The two-day rainfall also put farmers, who are getting ready to harvest crops, on notice.

"The crop was on a faster pace than normal, and we were on target to start right around this time, and maybe into next week," said Kevin Myron, the owner of Ag Opportunities. "Now some of those fields will have to wait for a hard frost to be able to get the equipment in the field."

Farmers would've been happy to start either this week or next because of  weather challenges last year, which saw one of the latest harvests Myron could remember.

"Last year, almost like clockwork, we were seeing rain every week," he said. "Farmers were combining up until Christmas Eve, and after the first big snow, some of the crops had to be left until February. That's why this moisture has some of the farmers worked up now."

The good news is that the crops are drying out better than last year.

"Corn is drying down faster than what we are seeing, but we didn't have a whole lot of soybeans ready and were probably were only a week away," Myron said.

Having the corn crop drying out and being ready to harvest is a different sign from last year. Myron said it's usually normal to see corn with a moisture level of below 15 percent, but last year, the corn crop's moisture was above normal.

"It felt like on corn, we didn't receive a load below 15 percent, and I've never seen that happen," he said. "So last year was a very unusual year. This year we are sitting better."

That's good news considering the rainfall earlier this summer already took a toll on Clay County's harvest.

"I would guess Clay County as a whole lost 5 to 10 percent of crops due to the flooding," Myron said. "There probably isn't a field out there that hasn't been affected whether it's a field being washed out or low spots in the field."

However, the rainfall last week has Myron and other farmers on edge regardless of how the crop looks right now.

"This is too much rain too fast," he said. "We need a couple weeks without a drop of rain to get the farmers back out on the field."

Myron added the recent rainfall could cause some of the farmers to wait for a hard frost, which sometimes doesn't happen until November.

Luckily, the weather could be listening to the farmers' pleas of dryer weather.

"The outlook for the next three months is a decent chance for above average temperatures," Weisser said.

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