Weather expert to farmers: Hurry up in harvest
State Climatologist Dennis Todey has some simple harvest advice for farmers: Don't delay. Take advantage of every weather break you can to harvest your crops.
Todey, speaking Wednesday from his Brookings office, said that October is shaping up to be a wet month. Fall is starting off wet, said Todey, and after a brief respite, it is a trend that will continue
The arrival of the fall equinox at 10:09 p.m. Wednesday officially signaled the start of autumn. The annual occurrence signals equal hours of daylight and darkness. From this point on, days will become shorter and nights longer.
That news was a ho-hum to Todey.
"Climatologically speaking, we've been in fall since Sept. 1," he said. Climatological studies are based on wider statistical trends in weather, he explained, and temperatures typically start dropping with the arrival of September. Climatologically speaking, winter will begin Dec. 1, he said.
Todey had mixed news for farmers.
"When today's storms move out, we'll be moving into a drier period for about 10 days to two weeks," he said, "but October is still looking on the wet side as of now."
While that won't be welcome agricultural news to area farmers, Todey said he doesn't expect to see a complete replication of last year's harvest season.
"This summer was warmer than average for the eastern half of the state and because of that, crop development is near, or ahead, of average," he said.
That means this year's advanced crop maturity should give farmers more, and earlier, harvesting opportunities, he said. But weather systems will start getting more active in a few weeks.
"I would encourage folks to not delay with their harvest," he said. "If crops are ready and dry enough, take advantage of the good weather."
In Mitchell three-tenths of an inch of rain fell as of 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, bringing the annual amount to 32.13 inches, which is still below the record of 36.14 inches of rain that fell in 1908. Other high, but nonrecord setting totals include: Huron, 28.18 inches (record, 31.71 inches, set in 1962); Menno, 28.78 inches of rain (record, 38.46 inches, set in 1944); and White Lake, 26.65 inches, below the record of 38.86 inches of precipitation set in 1962.
Other areas in state have already surpassed their record totals.
Wessington Springs, Todey said, "has obliterated" its rainfall totals this year, by registering 38.66 inches of precipitation. The record is 34.13 inches. Brookings registered 33.2 inches of rain this week, barely edging out its 33.12 inches precipitation record set in 2005.
"These latest storms are adding moisture to soils that don't have a whole lot of capacity to absorb more," Todey said.