There are five ways South Dakota’s climate is changing, says Dennis Todey, South Dakota state climatologist, who spoke at the recent Governor’s Ag Summit:
1) There is more rainfall.
2) There is more extreme rainfall.
3) There is more rain in spring and fall, not in the summer.
4) Dew point and humidity levels are higher.
5) The growing season is longer.
There are several implications for agriculture, he said. Some are positive. Others are negative.
You may have more crop choices.
You may be able to grow longer maturity varieties or hybrids.
However, due to more precipitation in spring and fall, you may have fewer days suitable for planting and harvesting. The implication is that you’ll need even more planting and harvesting capacity, or spread out your work load by diversifying your rotation or selecting a wider range of crop maturities.
Higher dew points will make it harder to put up dry hay. Making haylage or baleage may be options.
Plant diseases pressure will be greater.
Heat stress on livestock will increase because there will be more periods when it won’t cool off at night.
More insects may overwinter successfully. Different kinds of survive the winter and infect crops ealier.
Hotter summer, colder winter
Eric Snodgrass, University of Illinois meteorologist and founder of Global Weather and Climate Logistics, also spoke at the Ag Summit.
There is a low probability of cooler than average summer and fall in South Dakota this year, he said.
It’s more likely that the summer will be hotter, though not drier, in many parts of the state.
Heat stress throughout the Cornbelt during critical growth stages in corn may be a problem, he said.
He predict South Dakota’s average corn yield will be 2-3 bushels per acre less than last year because of higher temperatures.
The winter will likely be colder and snowier than last year. Waters in the Pacific Ocean near the equator are cooling. The El Nino event is switching to a La Nina event, which increases the odds that the winter will be colder and snowier in the Northern Plains than it was last year..