Delayed planting season frustrating for SD farmers
South Dakota farmers agree this year's cold, wet spring has made for a challenging planting season. The U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress reports have confirmed that South Dakota farmers are catching up, but are still well behind the f...
South Dakota farmers agree this year's cold, wet spring has made for a challenging planting season. The U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress reports have confirmed that South Dakota farmers are catching up, but are still well behind the five-year averages for planting.
Elk Point, S.D., farmer Doug Hanson says with the above normal precipitation in southeast South Dakota so far in 2018, the planting pace is the slowest in recent memory. The afternoon of May 22, he was out of the field again and working in the farmyard. Mud puddles were standing after another 1.2 inches of rain the evening before. "We should be winding down right now, but we're not even half planted," he says.
With persistent rains the last few weeks in Hanson's area there is water standing in many fields, and that may force him to take prevented plant on some of those acres. "We're going to have a real mess on our hands, even worse than what we've got right now," Hanson says. "If it doesn't kind of turn around in the next ten days, there'll be a lot of prevent plant."
Todd Hanten, farms near Goodwin, S.D., and says Mother Nature has not been cooperative this spring for him either. As a result, he has been running a couple of weeks behind his normal planting dates for corn. "We didn't get in until almost the fifth of May, which is a lot of times my end date, and we've been just a field or two every day at the best," he says. His spring wheat also went in late and on some fields he ended up switching to another crop.
The stress is also high as farmers are all planting at the same time, creating problems for getting inputs on time. "Nobody could go and now everybody is trying to go," Hanten says. "So, it puts a big crunch on everybody, from fuel to fertilizer to seed delivery - everything."
Hanten says the planting delays and poor field conditions will lower yields on the corn he did manage to plant. "The yield potential when you get it in late always puts you behind the eight ball, and I've just learned over the years that the earliest planted stuff has usually always been my best yields. So, it's a little discouraging that you don't have that hope for a perfect and really big crop," he says.
Hanten has been getting his soybean crop planted in a little timelier fashion. "The soybeans haven't gone in too much later than last year which was my second-best crop of soybeans ever, so I'm not as concerned." However, the field conditions have been less than ideal. "Again, we're planting them a few fields at a time and some areas of the field are not ideal. So, I'm worried about how well my population will come," he says.
Doug Hanson has the same outlook for the production potential on his farm and expects corn yields to be down about 25 percent. "We've got some corn fields that just look really bad, with a lot of drowned out spots and I don't think some of those spots are going to be able to come back. So, they'll just be a loss." He's not quite so pessimistic on soybeans and is hopeful for at least normal yields if the weather cooperates the rest of the season.
Just east of Sioux Falls, S.D., Valley Springs, S.D., farmer Kevin Scott was also in the field on May 22 planting soybeans. The wet field conditions were causing a problem with the planter, forcing him to stop to fix the issue. He says they're done planting corn, but are still working on soybeans. He says the challenge this season is the pressure to make a profit in a tight margin environment. "If you're not an optimist you really don't want to be farming," he says.
Scott says the inputs costs just to put in the crop are huge. "It's a large drain to our bank account. The fertilizer that's put on the ground, the tillage that we've done, the equipment we've bought. The seed, the pesticides, fungicides, insecticides - there's a long list of inputs," he says.
However, Scott remains hopeful for a successful growing season.