S.D. farmers harvest bumper crop despite challenges
ELK POINT, S.D. -- Harvest progress has been lagging in South Dakota this fall, especially in the southeast. Above-normal precipitation and poor drying conditions have kept the combines out of the field, plus, farmers are harvesting another bumpe...
ELK POINT, S.D. - Harvest progress has been lagging in South Dakota this fall, especially in the southeast. Above-normal precipitation and poor drying conditions have kept the combines out of the field, plus, farmers are harvesting another bumper crop which also slows the process.
Elk Point, S.D., farmer Doug Hanson says the persistent rains and harvest delays have been a reminder of the late spring.
With the excessive moisture, he planted his last field of beans June 12 and is now facing one of the latest soybean harvest seasons he can remember.
"We're just having a reflection of happened this spring with being 10 days to 14 days behind, and that's kind of about where we're at with this soybean crop," Hanson says.
Jim Petrick, who farms near Gayville, S.D., had the same frustrations this year in the flat river bottom land he farms near the Missouri River. He prefers to be done with soybean harvest by Nov. 1, and instead they were running a couple weeks behind.
He says the biggest concern is the soybean crop, as it is more fragile than the corn.
"We worry every time we get one of these moisture events that maybe we're going to start having some pods start to pop open on these soybeans," Petrick says. "We're definitely going to start losing some yield just through field loss, as time goes on here."
Despite the struggles, Petrick has been pleasantly surprised with the soybean yields on his farm, which have been running slightly above average. "In this neck of the woods here soybean yields have probably run from 45 to as much as 70 bushels to the acre," he says. "So, pretty solid."
Hanson is also pleased with how well his soybeans are performing with the late planting date and some of the low spots that sat in water. "I'd say right now we're running in the mid- to low- 60s, on average, and that's across all our fields, and we've had some fields that were in the 70s too." He says it wouldn't beat last year's record crop, but it comes close, and is still slightly above average.
With the delayed soybean harvest, many farmers switched to corn in October and made some progress getting that crop combined. Hanson says his early corn yields are above what he expected and would only improve as he got into some of his better fields.
"Even with some drowned out spots corn yields are at or above average," he says.
Petrick has generally seen the same trend on his farm in corn. "The field we're in here, the yield monitor has gone anywhere from 0 to 260," he says. "You know, we've got some circles here where the water just stood too long and we couldn't get dried out in time to get it replanted."
In contrast, the harvest has been running ahead of normal in northeast South Dakota, which is just opposite of a normal year in the state.
John Horter farms with his family near Andover, S.D., and says they were completely done with soybean harvest in his area in early October.
Horter says he also faced weather challenges during the season, but it was the lack of moisture and hot weather, plus some hail. Despite that, he says most of his soybean yields ran above average. "Even with the dry June and July here, we had a lot of beans in the high 40s to mid-50s, so it was a real pleasant surprise."
And Horter says his corn yields were also running well above expectations, even the fields that were hit by hail and deemed a 40-percent loss.
"We've had anywhere from 90 to 190 here on our farm and the high end of that is way above our average, so it's every nice to see that," he says.
U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected corn and soybean production will be down in South Dakota from last year's record for both crops. Farmers generally agree on the agency's assessment on corn. But, with the big yields that have been reported in most of the state, they say the jury is still out on soybeans.