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Soybeans on the Lee, Barbara and Eric Solsaa farm were largely planted by the first week in June, with low spots filled in on June 8. Photo taken June 12, 2017, in rural Hayti, S.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Grateful for timely rain

HAYTI, S.D. — The Solsaa family in Hamlin County, S.D., south of Watertown, has been seeing timely rains for their corn and beans, as well as the forage crops for their cattle.

Barbara Solsaa, who farms with her husband, Lee, and their son, Eric, says her family is grateful for timely rains that are putting things in her neighborhood in good shape compared to areas that have been too wet or too dry for optimal germination this spring.

Farming is only one of two occupations for the Solsaas. Lee is retired from a county highway department position. Eric, 45, runs a road maintainer for the county and does his farm work in the evenings and weekends.

The Solsaas maintain a herd of 140 stock cows and calving gets going in mid-January. Barbara and Lee have a commercial herd. Eric has the registered Angus herd that accounts for about a third of the cows and sells bulls through private treaty sales in March.

The Solsaas artificially-inseminate three quarters of the herd. Calving went especially well this year, with seven sets of twins, so with a few that didn't survive, the herd was about 100 percent for its calf crop.

The families run 150 acres of corn and 130 acres of beans, including some rented land. They also raise alfalfa and prairie hay to support their Solsaa Angus beef herds.

At the beginning of June, the farm received 3 inches of "nice slow rain that penetrated right down," and another healthy shot and another 2 inches in three episodes since June 11.

"All of the crop was put in this year," Barbara says, noting that doesn't always happen.

"Little flecks of hail" hit the farmhouse windows on June 11 and put some minor nicks and splits in the young corn plants, but probably not enough to hurt yields.

The soybeans were planted in early June, but low spots went in on June 8. As of June 12 the corn looked like it was ready to rocket upward, with heat and more favorable rain in the forecast.

The Solsaas harvested three large round bales per acre on the alfalfa grass mix, which is a good crop. They had a good hay crop in 2016 and have some left over.

"You never want to sell hay because you don't know what the next year brings," Barbara says.