SDSU: Drought continues to worsen

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Drought conditions continue to worsen across the state, according to the Sept. 27 U.S. Drought Monitor. Last week's map increases drought status in several places in the state because of the continuing dry conditions statewide, says state climatologist, Dennis Todey.

"Several degradations occurred for the week," Todey said. These included downgrading the abnormally dry (D0) area in the north central to moderate drought (D1), downgrading parts of east central South Dakota from moderate drought (D1) to D2 severe drought and downgrading parts of south central South Dakota from extreme drought (D3) to extreme drought (D4)- the highest drought category.

Todey says these changes reflect current dryness and ongoing precipitation deficits from the summer.

"The lack of precipitation going into the fall continues to limit the recovery in the state," Todey said.

Much of the northwest received no precipitation over the last 30 days. Most of the rest of the state has received totals of less than an inch. This leaves the state at much less than 50 percent of average precipitation totals during that time.

"Most of the major impacts of the summer have come and gone with the damage done to crops," said SDSU Extension climate field specialist, Laura Edwards. "There are some current concerns with planting winter wheat."

She says other issues include low streamflows and limited water for non-agricultural purposes.

Edwards says the main ongoing issue in the state is the soil moisture and lack of recovery in soil moisture.

"Without changes to improve soil moisture conditions across the state, we will be at higher risk for dryness impacts next year," Edwards said. "Some time to recover exists this fall. But time is running out climatologically to get much precipitation."

SDSU Extension will provide weekly drought briefings throughout the 2012 growing season. To keep up to date on how the drought is impacting South Dakota's agriculture industry, visit

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