SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Crops continue to wither as drought bakes South Dakota.

The federal Agriculture Department says hot and dry conditions persisted across South Dakota last week, with temperatures in the western part of the state averaging 4 to 10 degrees above normal. Only scattered rain fell. Topsoil moisture was nearly 80 percent short or very short.

Crop conditions continued to decline. Winter wheat was rated 61 percent poor or very poor, while spring wheat was 72 percent poor or very poor. Much of the barley crop also is in poor or very poor condition.

Sunflowers are emerging ahead of last year’s pace. So far 98 percent of sunflowers have emerged compared with 80 percent last year.

More than half of South Dakota’s pastures and ranges are in poor or very poor condition.

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