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Excessive Rain vs. Drought

July 27, 2012, 10:07 PM by Kellee Azar

Excessive Rain vs. Drought
BROOKINGS, SD -

Last year many KELOLAND families were drying out homes that went through record flooding. This year it's the exact opposite with a near record drought.

Talk to almost any farmer in KELOLAND and they'll tell you their job is a gamble. And this year, the brown crops are proof that gamble isn't paying off.

"Well yeah it's a throw of the dice its high risk business and everyone knows that so you need to manage the risks, so that you come out ahead in the long run," farmer Jan Sanderson said.

Timely rains are important when it comes making a good year for crops. But that's something that clearly hasn't happened this year.

"It's much easier; I mean you don't have to water. You don't have to move pipes. You don't have to break down. It’s always better just to get rain and hope everything works out," Sanderson said.

For Sanderson the biggest thing that has made all the difference in the way his corn turns out is the fact that he uses an irrigation system, which is always a good back up.

"My dad always used to tell me is cheap insurance and this year it's holding true," Sanderson said. "We still want rain. We pray for rain but if it doesn't come, turn on the water."

But Irrigation can be a catch-22.

"I spend a lot of time and money in the last twenty years. When there is rain, I'm an idiot. When it’s dry, I'm a genius," Sanderson said.

State Climatologist Dennis Todey says whether you irrigate or not the effect of this year's drought will be a lasting one.

"The impacts of this are going to continue for a while. There is no doubt about that, when you get to what's coming in the future," Todey said.

Many would have thought with the floods from last year, crops would have had a good amount of ground water to survive. Todey says the reality is even last year the ground was dry.

"During the late part of last season we saw some dryness start to develop and that was the start of what we have started to see this year with the very dry conditions," Todey said.

If farmers learn anything from living in South Dakota; it's to expect the unexpected.

"Most of them expect disasters and problems and whatever along the way, so hopefully they have stocked away money for the bad times and this might be one of them," Sanderson said.

But even the experts expected more rain.

"Especially in the wetter period we have been in I didn't think we were going to make this drastic of a shift," Todey said.

And that's a cause for concern for Todey.

"2008 to 2010 period was very wet and now we have shifted back to very dry conditions record dry going back and forth and that's hard to manage anyone who has to manage water or anything that depends on weather. So that has me concerned," Todey said

And for Sanderson he says these drastic weather patterns are putting many farmers right out of business.

"I don't believe we have any bad farmers left anymore they have all been weeded out," Sanderson said.

Todey says this year’s drought could end up costing more than the floods of last year because a drought has a lasting effect on a state.

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