Strong winds mid-week followed by cold, wet weather brought field work to a halt, according to United States Department of Agriculture's South Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service April 17.
Reports of ice accumulation ranged from one-eighth inch in Bison to one-half inch in Sioux Falls. Major activities by farmers and ranchers were calving and lambing, fencing, spreading fertilizer, plowing, and seeding. Statewide there were 4.8 days suitable for field work.
Soil moisture levels are similar to last week, with many areas still too dry for crop development. Areas with topsoil moisture considered very short or short covered 45% of the state, compared to 47% last week. Areas with subsoil moisture considered very short or short totaled 46%, up 1% from last week.
High winds blew across the state mid-week, drying topsoil and causing soil erosion. Many farmers report soils too dry and cold for working or planting.
Crops seeded into dry soils early last week received much needed moisture later in the week. Cool soils and cold nights have slowed crop emergence.
There were many reports of thin and spotty winter wheat fields but no reports of winter kill. The condition of the winter wheat crop is now rated at 4% poor, 26% fair, 57% good, and 13% excellent. Winter rye is rated at 5% poor, 21% fair, 56% good, and 18% excellent. Small grain seeding progressed early in the week. Spring wheat is 63% seeded, compared to the five-year average of 13%. Barley and oats seeded are also well ahead of the five-year average. There were several reports of fields needing to be re- seeded and/or fertilized due to the high winds.
Rains and ice settled the blowing dust of mid-week. While most pastures have not greened-up, ranchers have been able to move 11% of the cattle to pasture. Stock water is not a problem, with only 19% rated very short or short.
Despite inclement weather, 95% of cattle are in good to excellent condition. Calving is 63% complete, with no disease-related problems reported. Lambing is 71% complete.
Cool, dry weather has hampered producers this spring. Winter crops and weeds are slowly greening-up. Seed bed preparations and small grains emergence has been very slow. Livestock producers have had an ideal spring, but pastures are not ready for cattle to move to them. Cold nights generally covered the state last week. Statewide, temperatures ranged from 2 to 12 degrees below normal, with growing degree days since April 1 mostly behind normal.
Precipitation in the forms of rain, hail, ice, and snow were all reported this week.