Fall harvest season is upon us, although the corn and soybean crops are slow to mature and dry down this year. Corn in the East Central Region has been slow to progress this year, as it has been behind average on accumulating growing degree days throughout the late summer. Planting dates were spread out over a long period of time in the Southeast due to excess moisture this spring, and thus there is a lot of variation across the Region.
Crop Progress & Condition
As of September 25, 2017, 32 percent of corn was mature, compared to the 5-year average of 57 percent. About four percent of soybeans were harvested, compared to the 5-year average of 17 percent (Source: USDA NASS). Recent rains in the last week, with more than four inches in areas from Gregory County Northeast towards Codington County, have further slowed down fall harvest as the grain in the field and soils are both now too wet for harvest activities. There were many locations that reported 1.50 to 3 inches of rain around this very wet area that swept through the state as well.
Despite the slowdown in corn and soybean harvest, this is welcome rain for the winter wheat growers who had half of their acres planted as of Monday of this week.
Fortunately, the climate outlook for the remainder of the fall season may allow us some time to be patient and allow for crops and soils to dry out. After this week, temperatures are going to rebound towards warmer than average across the Region. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center outlook for October shows that temperatures are more likely to be warmer than average for the month ahead. Computer models have been indicating that pattern change to occur starting next week.
Along with the warmer temperatures, October is also more likely to be drier than average in the East and Central Regions of South Dakota. This does not mean that the area will not receive any rain, but rather that it is more likely to be less than average for this time of year.
If the Climate Prediction Center outlooks hold true, this would be good news for our Eastern farmers who need a little more time to complete fall activities. There has not been a widespread hard frost yet this season. This week is about the average first frost date for the Central, South and Eastern Regions. It appears that farmers can look towards a longer growing season again this year. It is unclear yet if we will have as late of a frost as last year, where some Southern areas did not measure subfreezing temperatures until November.
Unfortunately, most of the recent rain has not fallen on the most severe drought areas in Western South Dakota, and this Region needs some fall moisture for winter wheat, forages, and pastures and rangeland to store for use early next spring. This area will be closely watched, as they are closing out an extreme drought year and moisture will be critical for recovery in the 2018 season.