Drought is intensifying in northeastern South Dakota this week, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Sept. 20.
"There was a one category degradation in conditions in Brown, Day and Marshall Counties," said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension climate field specialist. "The field conditions are comparable to the surrounding area, and this change makes the drought category consistent with neighboring counties."
As combines work fields to harvest corn and soybeans in the area, Edwards says climatologists are getting a better understanding of how the drought has affected row crops.
"The last one to two months, very little precipitation has fallen across this northeastern area, but also in other existing drought areas," Edwards said.
Statewide, most climate-observing locations have reported less than half of average rainfall over the past 60 days. Many of those had reported less than a quarter of average for that same period. Timeliness of rains and heat has created varying yield results across the region's corn and soybean areas.
Edwards says that oftentimes more can be learned about crop response to extremes during drought years than during wet years.
"If crops are not water-stressed, we see overall higher yields and more consistent growth in any given field or area," she said. "When they are water-stressed, we can identify finer differences between soil types, chemical treatments, exposure to sun and wind, and drainage, all of which have an impact on the final yields."
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center released their latest seasonal drought outlook on Sept. 20.
"The updated drought outlook is significantly less optimistic from that of a few weeks ago," said Dennis Todey, SDSU state climatologist. "For the rest of the year, drought conditions are expected to persist across South Dakota."
The small area of no drought around Mobridge is projected to develop into drought conditions in the next few months, according to the outlook.
Todey says the Climate Prediction Center states they have high confidence in this forecast.
"The fall season is typically a transition time to a drier time of the year," Todey said. "Climate models are also projecting warmer than average temperatures continuing through the rest of the year. There is a lower probability that the state will be any wetter than average. As a result, drought conditions are expected to continue for the next three months."
SDSU Extension will provide weekly drought briefings throughout the 2012 growing season. To keep up to date on how the drought is impacting South Dakota's agriculture industry, visit iGrow.org.