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Farmers back in the field after harvest delays in SD

South Dakota farmers are back in the fields combining after heavy rains and even snow severely delayed the harvest in the state this fall. Rain totals of 2 to 10-plus inches in late September and early October completely shut down soybean harvest...

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Snow the second week of October added to a frustrating harvest season in South Dakota. (Michelle Rook / Agweek)

South Dakota farmers are back in the fields combining after heavy rains and even snow severely delayed the harvest in the state this fall. Rain totals of 2 to 10-plus inches in late September and early October completely shut down soybean harvest. David Iverson farms near Toronto, S.D., and says it is one of the latest harvest seasons he can recall. "2009 was a late year but we did get some done earlier, but most of our harvest was in November that year," he says. "We've only done like 10-percent of our beans, so we're quite late."

Iverson is also concerned that the beans have suffered some quality and production loss standing in the fields this long. "There can be quality issues and I'm a little concerned when the beans get ripe and they get this wet that the pods can start popping open, we might start losing yield," he says. Near Aberdeen, farmer Craig Schaunaman says when the rain hit, they switched from beans to corn. "When we hit this kind of two weeks of wet spell here you know there was guys similar to us that were trying to take some corn out here and there," he says. "So, there's been guys going back and forth between corn and beans."

However, when the weather finally broke the week of Oct. 15, they were able to switch back to beans. They were more than a week behind, but were making better progress than most. "Statewide, we're considerably behind, I think when you look at the bean harvest, especially, there just wasn't a lot of beans cut and the snow that we had really pushed things back," he says. The snow that fell Oct. 10 and 11 broke off some beans, causing yield loss and making harvest difficult. "We didn't have it that heavy here, but I think where the beans are broken over it's going to be a challenge to harvest them and the guys need to slow down to get them," Schaunaman says.

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Heavy rains in late September and early October kept South Dakota farmers out of the field.

Those areas then had to wait for the snow to melt and the fields to dry out, which is tough in the fall. Standability is an issue with corn as well, according to Schaunaman. "Corn is breaking over on us," he says. "There's some varieties that are out there and, for us, a little drought stress to it and there's corn tipping over." Keith Alverson and his family farm near Chester and were fortunate enough to get their soybeans out before the rains hit.

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"I harvested a lot of soybeans between 13 and 15-percent moisture and we have those in bins that we can manage the moisture in," he says. However, corn harvest has been another story as they had to fight mud and tough drying weather for nearly three weeks with the rain, gray skies and cool temperatures.

"It wears on you after a while, but just like we find with our planting windows in the spring, with the equipment and technology that we have now days, when we have an opportunity to work, guys can get a lot accomplished," he says. Roslyn grain producer Ryan Wagner says the slow start to the harvest season is even more frustrating because most of the state's farmers have a record crop in the field.

"We're going to have great yields in our area, including 60- to 70-bushel beans which is unheard of for our area," he says.

On his own farm, Wagner is expecting 200-plus bushel corn, which is some of the best yields he's ever had.

"When you think about what's setting out there you want to get after it as soon as possible and the weather has just not cooperated," he says. With improved weather the week of Oct.15, farmers made good progress. However, now it is a race against time. Plus, they're also looking at more drying costs than anticipated when the harvest started, which is an expense they don't need with the low-price environment.

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Heavy rains in late September and early October kept South Dakota farmers out of the field. (Michelle Rook / Agweek)

Related Topics: SOUTH DAKOTA
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