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Casey and Katie Sammons of Midland, S.D., farm with their children, Logan, 15, and Morgan, 12. Photo taken near Midland, S.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Crops late after rough winter

MIDLAND, S.D.—It's a mixed production picture this year for the 2019 crop season at the Sammons family farm-ranch east of Midland, about 60 miles southwest of Pierre, S.D.

Katie Sammons says she and her husband, Casey, grow sunflowers, millet and put up hay crops for their cattle. "Late," Katie says. "Everything is really far behind. "

The Sammons family works with farmland within a 20-mile radius in Haakon, Stanley and Jackson counties. They planted some sudangrass in some bottomland next to the Bad River, which runs through their farmstead. The flood tore away topsoil, left silt on the field, took away some of the fertilizer investment, exposing some clay shale rock.

The Sammons have just under 100-cow beef cow operation, selling them in the fall. "We had a really rough winter. Hard on cattle. Hard on people," Katie says.

The Sammonses don't background-feed ("That's a gamble, waiting longer in the year to sell," Katie opines.) but recently have started taking in heifer calves to calve-out for other ranchers. "They come in and haul their cattle out after we've calved them out," she says, adding it was a rough winter for that, with an abundance of storms.

Katie's side of the family is from the Belvedere area. Casey's grew up right here, and supplemented farm-ranch income with grain-trucking. The two were married in 2004, right out of high school. They have a son, Logan, 15, and daughter, Morgan, 12, and both help with the cattle, planting and haying.

The Sammonses have gotten more than 5 inches of rain in the past month. They lost about 200-acre corn crop to hail the week of July 4.

The corn was planted late, so it's possible the plumule containing the first leaves and "growing point" were not damaged. "There's a small chance that it could come back. It won't make any big bushels but there is a possibility of regrowth." If it doesn't fully mature, they might be able to sell it for silage or graze cattle on it.

Sunflowers are planted late, but the moisture portends a good yield. The hay crops are good "if you can get to them." There is a lot of moisture in the crops, and a lot of humidity.

"The yellow sweetclover has been abundant this year. The cattle do really well on it until it gets dry, and then it's a really heavy stalk and they don't like it as much," she says. "You can hay the clover, get a good hay crop, which some people are getting. Mostly forage."

Despite any challenges, Katie says she's happy on the ranch, noting: "here is "no better way to raise your family."