Punxsutawney Phil may have jumped the gun, but spring does have to come eventually. And as the mercury rises, the nagging question for many people is whether this summer will continue last year's parched conditions.
"We are still in a drought," said National Weather Service meteorologist Billy Williams. "Farmers aren't going to have a problem with wet fields."
South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey agreed, and said soil moisture is still depleted from last year's dry conditions.
"The soils near the surface will probably be somewhat moist, but there was very little moisture in the fall," Todey said. "Most of the snow we had will not do anything about filling in deeper soil moisture."
Drought won't deplete the amount of corn planted, though, if the United States Department of Agriculture's spring planting survey is right.
The survey, released on March 28, estimates the highest corn acreage, 97.3 million acres, to be planted in the United States since 1936. It's a slight increase from the 97.2 million acres of corn planted last year in the U.S.
But while record corn acreages are reportedly expected in states like Arizona, Texas, Idaho, Minnesota and North Dakota, the South Dakota's corn acres are expected to fall from last year's 6.15 million to 5.9 million this year.
Similarly, soybean acres in South Dakota are expected to slide from last year's record 4.75 million to 4.6 million acres this year; hay acres to be harvested are the same as last year's 3.1 million acres.
Winter wheat seeded in the state last fall totaled 1.25 million acres, which the USDA reports is a 5 percent drop from the year prior.
For farmers gearing up toward planting, Todey said their No. 1 priority is waiting for the ground to warm up.
"We're waiting a little bit for warm-up to get some frost out of the ground," he said. "We still have very cool temperatures in the soil."
Williams said that warm-up is likely to come soon, though not too soon.
"We're still over a month away from our normal last freeze and frosts of the season," Williams said.
While Williams said April can still clock in some "pretty cold" temperatures, not to mention snowfall -- he remembers 10 inches in 1994 -- there are no blizzards on the weather radar right now.
April's forecast is relatively mild, he said, predicting near-normal temperatures and precipitation for the area during the month. Williams said Mitchell's average temperatures for April vary from a high of 53 to a low of 29 on April 1, to a high of 67 and a low of 42 by the end of the month. The overall average high for the month is 60 degrees, while the average low is 35.
The near-normal precipitation the month currently calls for an average of 2.18 inches in Mitchell.
But, Williams said, weather is fluid and the forecast could easily change.
"It's very broad and obviously doesn't come with a money-back guarantee," he said. "Whether that turns out or not, we'll have to wait and see."
Todey said the quick warm-up, if it happens, is a two-sided cornstalk for farmers.
"It will be a positive initially because soils will warm up fairly quickly and allow them to get field work done fairly quickly," he said. "But it will require rain to come fairly quickly."