Editor’s note: The following was written by Laura Edwards, South Dakota State University Extension state climatologist, for the university’s website Aug. 22.
Summertime is coming to an end soon. The questions we hear this time of year are often about fall harvest weather for corn and soybeans and our first fall frost.
For the month of September, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released their outlook on Aug. 18. There is an increased likelihood of warmer than average temperatures in the month ahead.
Odds are leaning towards a drier than average month of September as well. There is about a 40-50% chance of monthly precipitation totaling less than average. This means there is about a 25-30% chance of above average, and the same for near average for the month.
The region’s long-term trend has been towards wetter fall seasons, so the month ahead could be drier than what we’ve grown accustomed to.
For September through November, there is less confidence that the warmth forecast for September will continue through the remaining fall months. In northern South Dakota, there are equal chances of warmer, cooler or near average temperatures for the three months overall. Central and southern regions of the state lean slightly warmer for the three-month period.
The fall outlook indicates increased chances of drier than average conditions, also in regions that are favored to be warmer than average. In general, a warmer and drier fall season could be desirable for corn and soybean harvest, as this outlook could lead to good conditions for grain to dry down in the field and avoid drying costs at the elevator.
But a dry fall season could make for a challenging start next spring, as soils and crops will rely on spring precipitation more than they would with a wetter fall season and moist soils over the winter. Fall is our best season for recharging soil moisture that has been utilized during our growing season. Fall moisture also benefits our pastures and forages in our 2023 growing season.