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Published September 10, 2012, 11:05 AM

Dry times

Chad Groos, 41, farms two miles north of Coleman, S.D., with his father, Andy, and brothers Eric and Grant. Groos says his family is fortunate this year, compared with those farther south plagued by severe drought.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

COLMAN, S.D. — Chad Groos, 41, farms two miles north of Colman, S.D., with his father, Andy, and brothers Eric and Grant. Groos says his family is fortunate this year, compared with those farther south plagued by severe drought.

The Grooses raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They milk 50 head of cows and run about 250 head of stock cows. They finished planting corn around May 14 and beans around June 1, which proved beneficial in light of the rain pattern they received.

“In the end, it was a blessing because it recharged our subsoil in that part of it,” he says. The Grooses typically hope for 160 to 180 bushels of corn, but this year, they’ll be in the 100- to 120-bushel range. Their soil is relatively light.

“It seemed like the early-planted corn could do — should do — better,” Groos says. “It was under stress, but not as much as our later-planted corn. I think the early-planted corn that got in mid-April should do fairly well.”

The Grooses picked up 3 inches of rain in the first two weeks of August, after July and late June brought little rain.”Hopefully, the soybeans won’t get frosted off like they did last year,” Groos says.

He says his family’s dairy is a bit older than many and uses grain raised on its farm, so the dairy doesn’t have the overhead costs of many new operations. “The price of milk is staying up there, but the feed costs are going to be outrageous for these bigger dairies,” Groos says. “It’s going to be a struggle for these larger dairies to get the tonnage for silage corn. Some of this short drought corn is not ‘tonning out.’ It’s a fourth of what it normally would be.”

Crop insurance could help bring farmers close to profits, depending on how many bushels a farmer sold early in the year, Groos says. “This spring our marketing guys said to sell early. If this ‘big crop’ came in, we’d be looking at sub-$4 per bushel prices. I think there was a fair amount of corn marketed around $5 because everything was indicating a large crop with the large acreages projected to be planted.”

Crop reports

Here are highlights from the National Agricultural Statistics Service weekly crop and weather reports from the region as of Sept. 2:

North Dakota: Bean harvest is beginning. Some farmers are putting fall tillage on hold until they get moisture.

Corn — 20 percent poor or worse, compared with 18 percent the previous week (Aug. 27); 23 percent mature, compared with a 4 percent five-year average.

Soybeans — 18 percent poor or very poor, 16 percent the previous week; 43 percent mature 1 percent harvested.

Dry beans — 16 percent poor or very poor, 51 percent good or better; 26 percent harvested, compared with a 3 percent average.

Sugar beets — 76 percent good to excellent; 8 percent lifted, compared with a 2 percent five-year average.

Potatoes — 12 percent poor or worse, 52 percent good to excellent; 6 percent dug, compared with a 4 percent five-year average.

Topsoil moisture is 72 percent short or very short. Subsoil moisture is 68 percent short or very short. Towns the farthest below normal annual precipitation averages from 1971 to 2000 are: Fargo, 5.96 inches; Dazey, 5.54 inches; Hillsboro, 5.01 inches; Wyndmere, 4.04 inches; Forest River, 3.47 inches.

South Dakota: Corn — 52 percent poor or very poor, compared with 55 percent the previous week; 75 percent of the intended silage has been harvested, up from a 13 percent normal; 17 percent mature, up from 7 percent the previous week and compared with a five-year average of 3 percent.

Soybeans — 46 percent poor or very poor, compared with 44 percent the previous week; 54 percent dropping leaves, compared with the 19 percent five-year average.

Sunflowers — 60 percent poor or very poor, compared with 40 percent the previous week.

Topsoil moisture is 91 percent short or very short and subsoil is 92 percent short or very short in the state. A few reporting stations had temperatures 110 degrees and higher.

Minnesota: Corn — 17 percent poor or worse, unchanged from the previous week; 16 percent mature, 5 percent average for this date; 65 percent of silage is cut, 19 percent average for this date.

Soybeans — 13 percent poor or very poor, compared with 12 percent the previous week; 21 percent dropping leaves, compared with a 5 percent five-year average.

Dry edible beans — 21 percent harvested, compared with a 7 percent average; 7 percent poor or worse, 66 percent good to excellent.

Topsoil moisture is short or very short in 63 percent of the state, 58 percent the previous week.

Montana: Corn — 20 percent poor or worse, up from 14 percent the previous week; 33 percent cut for silage, 6 percent average for the date.

Range and pasture — 71 percent poor or worse, 64 percent the previous week. Topsoil moisture rated adequate is 9 percent compared with last year’s 34 percent and five-year average of 45 percent at this date.

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