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Wet Conditions Likely Into Fall Season

Updated August 26, 2020
Professional headshot of Laura Edwards

Laura Edwards

SDSU Extension State Climatologist

Many locations in South Dakota have already received as much precipitation this year as they do in an entire average year. The latest climate outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center shows increased chances of wetter than average conditions to continue into the fall season.

Seasonal Climate Outlook

A color-coded map of the United Statees showing the precipitation outlook for August through October 2019. All of South Dakota is light green. Parts of Western South Dakota are a darker green.
Figure 1. Precipitation outlook for August through October 2019. Green areas have increased chances of wetter than average conditions in the three-month period. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center

As of July 18, the climate outlook for August through October favors wetter than average conditions across South Dakota. The Northern Plains states are more likely to have wetter than average conditions than anywhere else in the lower 48 states.

Wet climate conditions in the next three months would be consistent with our state’s long-term trend, which has been an increase in fall precipitation over the last several decades. For many soybean and corn growers, wet conditions in the late summer and fall have become more of the norm than the exception in recent years, including in 2018.

The temperature outlook is less certain. As of July 18, there was indication of a pattern change toward cooler than average temperatures in August. However, September and October do not appear to lean strongly either cooler or warmer than average. Overall for the three-month period through October, there are equal chances of warmer, cooler or near average temperatures for South Dakota.

Agricultural Impacts

Usually wetter and cooler August climate conditions favor good soybean production during this key reproductive stage. Moisture would also benefit the corn crop in its reproductive stage as well, as much of the state’s crop is much behind average development for this time of year. Pasture and range appear to be producing well. Fall moisture is often a benefit to trees and forestry, as they prepare for winter and the next growing season. Yards and gardens will continue to do well if cool and moist conditions continue to minimize heat and drought stress, if diseases and other pests are kept at bay.

Cool conditions however, could slow down corn growth again as accumulated growing degree days may level off. Wet conditions will not benefit small grain harvest either in the month ahead. Too much fall moisture could set the stage for more spring flooding in 2020, as our soils are already saturated, or at least very wet, already.

The 2019 growing season continues to present challenges for South Dakota farmers. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best, is one of the messages this season.