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July 10, 2012 10:00 PM

Dry Weather Forming Cracks In Marion

Marion, SD

Farmers thought they'd have an advantage this summer. A dry winter allowed most to plant their crops nearly two weeks early. But the dry conditions never stopped. And now, whatever's sprouting up is bringing farmers and businesses down.

"You can see it didn't pollinate," Marion farmer Jamie Tieszen said of his corn.

Tieszen doesn't have an earful of corn, but you'll certainly hear his thoughts on the drought that's plagued 2,600 acres of his crops.

"The Turner County Fair, we had a couple rains last year at that time," Tieszen said. "But since then, it's been dry."

"The yields have been determined and it's going to be ugly," Central Farmers Cooperative general manager Steve Domm said.

Domm knows the rest of the summer will be difficult. In fact, cracks are already starting to form both on the land and at his office.

"We're a volume-based business," Domm said. "And when the bushels aren't there, we suffer."

The farmland in Marion used to be fields of gold. But from both a personal and economic standpoint, farmers are starting to feel the sting.

"It's extremely disappointing because we got started with such a good looking crop," Tieszen said.

"We're cutting expenses," Domm said. "The capital improvements we were looking at for next year are going to be put on hold,  Hours are going to start being cut; expenses are going to start being cut. It's time for everyone to tighten their belts."

Even if rain came later this week, Domm estimates at least 35 percent of the usual yield would be lost. So for farmers like Tieszen, they hope rainy skies can lead to a brighter future.

"A farmer always thinks, 'Oh, next year, we'll be better,'" Tieszen said.

But for now, the only thing raining on their parade is the sun.

Tieszen met with his crop insurance agent Tuesday afternoon to determine what can be salvaged. In the meantime, Turner County instituted a burn ban Tuesday morning because of the dry weather.

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