Drier Than Average April Expected

The national climate forecast for April 2015, released March 31 by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, indicates drier than average conditions to continue in South Dakota and the Great Plains.

The drought outlook for the month ahead also shows likely expansion of drought across much of the state in the month ahead, said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist.

“This latest outlook projects an increased probability of drier than average conditions in South Dakota, Nebraska, and parts of surrounding states,” Edwards said. “This is not good news for us, given that we are already going into the growing season with a moisture deficit from the last several months.

She did add that one benefit of dry conditions in the early growing season is that planting and field preparation for spring planted crops, such as corn and soybeans, can be completed faster and more efficiently without saturated soils or ponding, as has been seen in many recent years in the eastern part of the state.

“There is some concern already that winter wheat has had some frost damage following the brief thaw in February in the western and central counties,” said Dennis Todey, SDSU Extension Climate Specialist & South Dakota State Climatologist. “For the wheat that did survive the warm period, now the lack of precipitation is a growing concern.”


He added that there was also winter wheat that did not emerge last fall because of the dry conditions.


With the dry outlook for the month ahead, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center also projects further expansion of drought conditions across most of South Dakota by month’s end.

Edwards suggested this may be a conservative estimate, as wildland fire activity continues in the western counties, an area that is not included in the expansion of drought in the drought outlook map.

“Wildland fire is a complicated indicator of drought”, Edwards said.

She explained that it relies on the wet years, such as 2013 and 2014, to grow vegetation to provide fuel for the fires.  “The lack of precipitation since last fall has sufficiently dried out the vegetation to cause the fire hazards that we are seeing now,” Edwards said.

Donation from Tripp/Mellette Farm Bureau Helped Stock Kitchens at Ronald McDonald Houses with Food and Milk

The Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau was recently part of an effort to stock the pantry and refrigerators at the Ronald McDonald Houses in Sioux Falls with much-needed groceries and milk.


Thanks in part to a generous $500 donation from the Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau, the Ronald McDonald House near Sanford Hospital has a pantry stocked with almost $1,000 worth of groceries. In addition, this donation and others from County Farm Bureaus around the state have made it possible for fresh milk to be delivered weekly all year long to both Ronald McDonald Houses in Sioux Falls: the 21-room House near Sanford, and the 8-room House near Avera.


“In addition to the food, our donation was able to help out with the milk, too, which is one of the more needed things there at the Ronald McDonald House,” said Steve Waters, who farms near Carter and is President of the Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau.


According to the staff at the Ronald McDonald House, this amount of groceries will last between one and two months. The milk is also a great gift to them, because it is both nutritious and convenient for the families staying there. When dealing with the illness of a child, the last thing the families should worry about is needing to go out to purchase food or milk.


“I’d like to thank South Dakota Farm Bureau for all that they do for us,” said Kevin Miles, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Dakota. “In the past year we’ve had over 1,200 families come through our charity, and it’s through gifts like this that we’re able to provide for them.”


“This donation was a pretty good size for our budget, but we were glad to do it,” Waters commented. A portion of the Tripp/Mellette donation will also be directed to a similar food-for-families project South Dakota Farm Bureau will organize at the Rapid City Regional Hospital later this spring.


Waters added that the Tripp/Mellette County Farm Bureau may try to do a food-related project locally as well. “There are needs all over. We’ve been talking to our local food pantry, and we may try to do something there also.” He encourages any farm or ranch families who would like to be involved in Farm Bureau to speak with him or with Rob Koskan, Secretary of the County Farm Bureau board, who lives in Mellette County near Wood.


The grocery donation to the Ronald McDonald House is South Dakota Farm Bureau’s annual way to celebrate “Our Food Link,” a program of the American Farm Bureau Federation that recognizes the safe, abundant and affordable food provided by America’s farmers and ranchers.