Most of South Dakota in a moderate to severe drought

April 1, 2022 GMT

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — Some South Dakota ranchers and farmers are dealing with a third straight year of drought conditions.

This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor map shows most of the state is in a moderate to severe drought.

Grass stockpiles are dwindling and some ranchers are expecting only half of normal grass production this year.

The South Dakota Grassland Coalition has launched a special project called “Pray for Rain. Plan for Drought,” which is designed to provide resources to help ranchers mitigate the impact of long-term drought conditions.

Alexander Smart is the agriculture and natural resources program leader with South Dakota State University Extension at Brookings. He says early planning is key.

“I’d calculate stocking rates based on that and start to make culling decisions,” Smart said. “It’s clear to me that if you don’t make changes, you’re going to get caught off guard.”


The Grassland Coalition offers a mentoring network as a way to help farmers and ranchers, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.

“They have a road map to follow rather than just waiting for things to come,” Smart said. “Talk to them, reach out and say, ‘Hey, I need help. How do I put one of those things together?’”

SDSU is working on an estimator that uses satellite imagery to show how much forage is currently available, and its quality, with the capability to predict how much forage will be available later in the season.