BROOKINGS — As South Dakota farmers and ranchers gear up for spring planting and turning livestock out to pasture, warmer than average temperatures and limited chances of precipitation are continuing to make a dry situation worse. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, 78.7% of South Dakota is in some level of drought, including 8% that is newly classified as Extreme Drought (D3) in the north central region. The rest of the state is Abnormally Dry (D0).

“Drought is expected to persist in these areas through April, according to the latest monthly drought outlook issued on March 31 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center," says Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist. "Northeast South Dakota has some likelihood to improve their drought condition with a more active storm track forecast to begin in mid-April. Overall, warmer than average temperatures are expected to continue in April, which can limit any drought relief from rainfall and even make some conditions more difficult."

With these conditions in mind, SDSU Extension will kick off its spring virtual educational programming with Drought Hour. Starting April 12, every Monday from 11 a.m. to noon CST, participants are invited to take their coffee break online and stay ahead of drought impacts with climate updates, business insights and the latest research-tested management tips for farms, ranches and properties of all sizes.

“Each week attendees can expect to hear reliable and timely climate updates, current drought conditions and information to aid in drought management planning for their respective agriculture sectors," says Hector Menendez, Assistant Research Professor and SDSU Extension Specialist in Livestock Grazing.

The April Drought Hour webinars will cover the following topics:

• April 12: "Seed Treatments and Other Early Season Pest Considerations," Adam Varenhorst, Assistant Professor and SDSU Extension Field Crop Entomologist; "Fungicide Seed Treatment Considerations Under Dry Soil Conditions," Emmanuel Byamukama, Associate Professor and SDSU Extension Plant Pathologist, and Connie Strunk, SDSU Extension Plant Pathology Field Specialist

• April 19: "Focus on Numbers for Drought Plan," Jack Davis, SDSU Extension Crops Business Management Field Specialist; "Climate Update," Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension

• April 26: "Considerations Before Turning Cattle Out to Graze," Krista Ehlert, Assistant Professor and SDSU Extension Range Specialist, Jameson Brennan, Assistant Professor and Research and SDSU Extension Specialist in Livestock Grazing, Adele Harty, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, and Robin Salverson, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist

There is no fee to attend but participants will need to register for the weekly webinars on the SDSU Extension Events page. Confirmation Zoom links and reminders will be emailed to attendees.

In addition to the weekly webinar series, SDSU Extension has devoted an entire page on the Extension website to addressing drought concerns. To receive regular updates and the latest resources on drought conditions, South Dakotans are also encouraged to subscribe to Extension’s newsletters.

“As the outreach arm of South Dakota State University, SDSU Extension strives to provide research-based information and educational programming to improve the lives and livelihoods of South Dakotans," says Strunk, who will kick off the first webinar April 12. "This includes sharing the latest weather and climate outlook as well as management tips and tools so farmers and ranchers can be proactive in making limited moisture plans."

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