With heat wave over, attention turns to frost
Northern Plains News Service
With the heat of the last week of August just a sweaty memory, September's cooler temperatures now mean the race is on between the ripening of the corn crop and South Dakota's first hard freeze.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while eastern North and South Dakota got a late start in corn planting because of the wet spring, they are in a better situation than states to the east and south, like Iowa and Illinois.
"That's a potential problem," said USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey about corn states along the Mississippi River. "You get back into the eastern Dakotas and into Minnesota planting, their action occurred a little bit earlier on average (than Iowa and Illinois).
According to the Midwest Regional Climate Center in Illinois, the first 32-degree freeze, on average, in the Mitchell area is Oct. 1-10. The first 28-degree freeze, on average, in the same region is Oct. 11-20.
Another factor in the corn crop development is the shortening days of fall.
"Corn doesn't just react to current weather conditions but also to the calendar itself -- the march of time," Rippey said. "The crops are sensitive to the declining amount of sunshine and they will push toward maturity, eventually, just because of the time of year. That's kind of built into the seeds."