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Harvesting The Extremes

October 2, 2012, 6:07 PM by David Brown

Harvesting The Extremes
AVON, SD -

The past two summers have been defined by opposite extremes. Flooding in 2011 gave way to the drought of 2012. But one farmer's making the most of what nature has given him.

"You kind of hated to come down here to look last fall," farmer Rick Hurd said.

The difference between last year and this year on Hurd's property is night and day.

"It's just ironic that it's been flooded out and dried out all on the same farm," Hurd said.

With more than 300 acres near Avon, Hurd's been able to harvest about 240 of them despite 2011's Missouri River flooding. While he's used to planting corn, alfalfa and soybeans, he only went with one of those this year.

"We put soybeans in just to have a least-cost crop because we didn't know what the outcome was going to be," Hurd said. "And it turned out pretty decent for us."

In fact, Hurd expects around 40 bushels per acre from his beans.  He attributes that to a lower water table that allowed the roots to get additional moisture in the face of little precipitation.

"Anybody that's along this bottom here, south of Avon and Wagner, this is probably the best crop in the area," Hurd said.  "I don't know how you can take two years and go from one extreme to the other."

And while Hurd knows he's luckier than others, he believes what he's been able to accomplish is just the mentality of the agriculture community.

"Farmers just try to make the best of things," Hurd said. "That's what farming is."

Hurd is still cleaning up his property, some of which is covered in washed-up sand. He also spent two weeks this winter rebuilding a road that leads to his acreage.

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