The harvest is usually a time of celebration, when farmers get their crops out of the field and start paying down loans. But due to the lack of rain and dry conditions this summer, the harvest in KELOLAND is well ahead of schedule, and for some, there's little to celebrate.
It's unusually quiet at the Bones Elevator near Parker. Normally this time of year, harvest trucks would be dumping corn and beans. While some combines in the area are still cutting, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones says he's done.
"Our combines are in the shed, as are a lot of our neighbors down here" Bones said.
Due to the drought, crops in this area suffered drastically. Early on, the yields weren't looking promising so many farmers cut their corn into silage, leaving little left to pick.
In all his years of farming and as Secretary of Ag, Bones doesn't ever remember being done this early.
"The southern part of our state for the most part, I think is pretty much done. We are getting it wrapped up," Bones said.
And that includes other crops. Statewide, Bones says farmers would just be getting started harvesting their soybean crop, but as of today, they're already half done.
The bad news, Bones says, is what's happening in the fields of South Dakota will trickle down to Main Street.
"I think eventually it will. We are in a supply and demand market, so when times are tough and cattle numbers and swine and dairy numbers are down a little bit, that's less supply on the market, so chances are we are going to see a little higher food prices," Bones said.
Even though the harvest is wrapping up early, Bones, like so many others, is still hoping for rain this fall and good moisture this winter.
"It's one of those things. You just take what's given to you and this year is an anomaly. We hope we don't have to go through it again next year, but who knows," Bones said.
To give you an idea of how far ahead of schedule they are, Bones says last year at this same time, only one percent of the corn and soybean crop statewide had been harvested. Right now, corn is 36 percent done and beans 47 percent done.