The blizzard of April 2018 was one of the most powerful low pressure systems in history for that month. Ironically, it started on Friday the 13th and didn’t wrap up until Sunday. There was over a foot of snow in some spots, and up to two feet in other accompanied by thunderstorms, one-inch hail, and wind gusts in excess of 75 miles per hour. New snow records were set for many places including Record Snow for this Date, Single April Day Record and Month of April Record. Mitchell and Huron set new records for Snow fall on April 13th and 14th. KELOLAND showed the following top 10 snow totals: Winner – 20.00″, Lake Wilson – 19.00″, Huron – 19.00″, Marshall – 17.80″, Lynd – 17.50″, Lake Benton – 16.90″, Lyman – 16.50″ Mitchell – 16.20″, Tea – 15.00″, Sioux Falls – 14.30″, and so on….
There were comments at the time about how this will put planting behind, how it could affect yields, etc. Then again, the words of the title: “We do not have enough information to be pessimists!” Moisture was needed across several parts of the state. The irony of the picture shows the irony of a center-pivot irrigation system much needed during the cropping season, bearing witness to the spring blizzard. Spring snow water-equivalent is however at least 20%. So if Winner received 20 inches that represents nearly 4 inches of “rain” in the form of snowflakes. So the top ten snow totals reported by KELOLAND could have read in “rain equivalent” Winner – 4″, Lake Wilson – 3.8″, Huron – 3.8″, Marshall – 3.6″, Lynd – 3.5″, Lake Benton – 3.4″, Lyman – 3.3″ Mitchell – 3.2″, Tea – 3″, Sioux Falls – 2.9″, etc.
Although there were spring rain events during May such as the May 17th rain in the Campbell/Walworth county area (Long Lake), in general they were far from extraordinary, and even significantly deficient in significant portions of the state. Recently planted crops however have been receiving warm weather and are doing well in general, even catching up with the delayed 2018 planting season. During the last week of May, the National Agricultural Statistics Service released the South Dakota Crop Progress and Condition.
Topsoil moisture supplies rated 78 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 72 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus. Corn condition rated 67 percent good, 7 percent excellent. Corn planted at 91 percent, was only 1 percent behind the five-year average. Emergence at 50 percent, is still behind the 62 percent average. Soybeans planted was 61 percent, near the 65 percent average. Emergence was somewhat behind at 16 percent, compared to the 26 percent average for the last week of May. The point here is that in spite of not having received significant spring rain lately in large portions of the state, the April blizzard left at with 78 and 72 percent adequate topsoil and subsoil moisture, respectively. This, together with the warm days during emergence has allowed crops to make a comeback and rapidly approach the five-year average.
Granted, the April blizzard had a toll on livestock producers which lost young stock as a result of cold exposure. It is very difficult to find any comfort when those things happen. Aside from dreadful animal losses what the blizzard left were spring pasture conditions of 39 percent fair, 47 percent good, and 4 percent excellent. Hopefully this will make up for some of the losses through better cattle performance. Yes, producers may have lost some calves but they also know how critical is that moisture to the pasture for the remaining ones to prosper. So back to the title, we do not have enough information to be pessimists, nor do we have the time to dwell in negativity; focus on the things you can control and let nature heal itself.