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Published April 27, 2011, 10:33 AM

Wet spring hampers South Dakota corn farmers

MITCHELL, S.D. — Wet conditions this spring in South Dakota have pushed corn farmers to the brink of having to make some crucial decisions about their crop.

MITCHELL, S.D. — Wet conditions this spring in South Dakota have pushed corn farmers to the brink of having to make some crucial decisions about their crop.

No corn was planted as of Sunday when normally about 5 percent of the crop would be in the ground, the Agriculture Department said in its latest report. Last year at the same time, 12 percent of the corn had been planted.

Mitchell-area farmer Dale Smith told The Daily Republic newspaper that if it stays wet, farmers might have to go to a faster-maturing corn, and that will mean a reduced yield. If it gets really late, farmers might switch from corn to soybeans, which have a shorter growing season, he said.

“It isn't going to do any good to plant (corn) right now,” he said. “It isn't going to germinate.”

South Dakota last year was the nation's seventh-leading producer of corn for grain. State Extension Service educator John Cairns said there still is time to get this year's corn in the ground, but early May likely is the cutoff.

“If the weather doesn't turn around, some hard decisions are going to have to be made,” he said.

For some farmers, there might not be any decision at all if flooded fields don't dry out.

“I've had some growers say there is some ground around here that won't get planted,” said Mitchell fertilizer company consultant Dan Allen.

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