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Drought Outlook For Fall

August 16, 2012, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Drought Outlook For Fall

Dry conditions are on the retreat in some parts of South Dakota according to the latest drought monitor.

Recent rain and cooler temperatures have improved conditions in the northeast, as well as around Brookings and Tripp counties.  And more relief could be on the way once summer gives way to fall.

South Dakota received a break from the summer's stifling heat long enough to rescue some parched areas from extreme drought conditions.

"The cooler conditions won't make things get better, but they'll certainly keep things from getting worse," State Climatologist Dennis Todey said.

A 30-year trend of wetter falls in South Dakota has Todey hopeful of slightly above average rain on the way.  But don't hold your breath for any drought busting downpours.

"At least in Brookings, we've gone from brown grass to greenish grass, so that shows some improvement," Todey said.

Any rain this fall will likely have mixed results for South Dakota farmers struggling with the dry conditions.

"Most of the corn is either in pretty good shape and needs a little bit more moisture or it's completely done and not going to get anything out of it," Todey said.

A wet fall usually isn't good for the harvest.  But Todey says the dry ground should be able to soak-up the moisture and keep the harvest on-track.

"We'll take whatever we can get at this point, because there's so much capacity in the soil that it can take a lot of it up and any runoff will help on some of those water issues, the cattle water issues that we're seeing," Todey said.

Farmers who will still have a crop left to harvest can find some comfort in the prospect that the drought won't likely worsen in the fall.

Looking beyond the fall, Todey says another winter with little snow will further harm surface water that's a vital drinking source for cattle, come spring.

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