Frost comes early as gardeners, soybean farmers hope for bestNational Weather Service meteorologist Billy Williams said Mitchell is better off in terms of temperatures then other areas farther east and north.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
“It’s about that time,” Tom Schumacher said as he picked over ripe green peppers and tomatoes Wednesday afternoon at the Mitchell Community Garden.
Schumacher was hoping to get as much out of his garden before the cold weather and potential frost that was anticipated Wednesday night and early this morning. Temperatures were expected to reach freezing or near freezing.
National Weather Service meteorologist Billy Williams said Mitchell is better off in terms of temperatures then other areas farther east and north.
“You aren’t going to get it as bad there, but it is still going to be cold,” Williams said Wednesday.
He did note that frost was likely for the Mitchell area even if temperatures stayed slightly above freezing.
Schumacher is banking on his tomato plants farther away from the ground not freezing.
“I’m hoping the ones farther up will be OK, so I left those on, but I am sure the ones low are going to get hit,” he said.
Areas to the west of Davison County were not in as much jeopardy of freezing, according to Williams.
The cold shot of weather is coming earlier than expected.
“It is a little earlier than average for a frost, but last year was later then average,” Williams said. “Of course, the snarky comment you are going to hear is, ‘Since when has South Dakota weather ever been average?’ ”
Gardeners aren’t the only ones who will be cursing this early cold spell. Soybean farmers may also be hurt.
Davison County Extension Agronomist John Cairns said a significant frost would reduce the quality of soybeans in the area and make parts of fields unharvestable.
“There are low places where the cold air will pool in fields, and I would expect those to be places where the beans won’t be able to be harvested,” Cairns said.
Cairns said farmers will spend more money and time drying the beans once they are harvested, because the frost will kill the plants and they won’t be able to dry naturally.
If the plant dies, the quality of the bean will also suffer, according to Cairns.
Cairns was keeping positive Wednesday afternoon, though.
“I don’t think we are going to be as bad as areas to the north and east, so there still is some hope.” He said it will be a tense few days for farmers, though. “Right now, it is out of our hands,” Cairns said. On the upside, Wednesday night’s near-freezing temperatures are not supposed to linger. Mitchell is expected to reach 57 degrees today with an overnight low of 42, followed by a high of 62 Friday and a Friday night low of 48. Saturday’s forecast high and low are 70 and 56.