ONIDA, S.D. (KELO)– Almost every day, a group of local producers meets around 6 a.m. for breakfast together at the Bakery Cafe in Onida to tell stories and talk about farming over a cup of coffee.
“We love coming in here,” Todd Yackley, a producer from the area said. “Jo [the owner] makes it fun and the food is always good.”
Yackley, shared his concerns about the current drought on his operation.
The winter wheat got off to a pretty good start, he said, but they had a cold, dry winter and a cool start during the spring season. The wheat stands look good.
Yackley’s spring wheat was planted pretty early and experienced some snow at the beginning, but not much moisture since then.
“I think the biggest rain we’ve had all summer was about an inch,” Yackley said. “So the wheat has really struggled.”
They have begun the wheat harvest, he said, and yields, proteins and test weights are varying all over the board.
On some of his better ground, he is seeing pretty decent yields, but a lot of the spring wheat didn’t get tall.
“There are areas in spring wheat that we will be able to harvest some but on our farm, we probably sprayed out a third of our spring wheat already,” Yackley said.
The rain right after the Fourth of July really helped the corn, he said, but now they need another rain. They also don’t need any more 100 degree days.
“I think the corn has still got pretty good potential, you know. We are talking tonight, tomorrow a pretty good chance of rain,” Yackley said. “I told all these guys in the coffee shop that I’d buy breakfast if we got an inch of rain, but I backed it off to if we get a half inch of rain I’ll buy breakfast, so I guess we will take about anything.”
In central South Dakota, producers grow a lot of sunflowers and those are doing okay for now, he said.
There are a lot of livestock producers in Sully County, but not a lot of hay was put up this year, Yackley said, and now they are struggling to try to find hay. He has cows of his own, but he thinks he has enough feed for at least another year.
“But it’ll rain sometime, hopefully tonight and tomorrow,” he said.
Rainfall is way behind normal this year, Yackley said.
All of his crops are operated using no-till and without that, he thinks they would be “in a world of hurt.”
Yackley will not be baling any of the wheat crop because he does not like to take the residue off of the fields. He thinks that the winter wheat will do better than the insurance guarantees.
Rain wouldn’t be able to help the wheat at this point.
If they don’t get more rain, he is concerned about getting through the year and what to do with some of the crops.
If the corn doesn’t tassel or pollinate well, he’s not sure what to do with it. Some of it is just tall enough to cut for silage.
Yackley is not very concerned about the sunflower crop right now, but the soybeans need some late rains.
There has been heat and drought stress on the crops, he said. They are seeing the most stress on the crops that are planted on low residue fields.
“I’m hoping it rains, I’d be glad to buy breakfast,” Yackley said.
As a custom harvester, Kent Braathen gets to see a lot of America’s farmland. He starts his year in Texas and works his way north to the Canadian border. Onida is his third stop this year.
“The crops in the south weren’t as bad. They had kind of the opposite weather we had up here. They had some moisture and cooler temperatures” Braathen said.
Braathen has been very concerned about the drought and what it could mean for his business.
“If he doesn’t have a crop, then I don’t have any income,” he said.
Braathen purchases a lot of equipment that is specific for use in the area, which is added expense.
“It’s concerning when something isn’t going to maybe come through for the year” he said.
Rick Hofer said they just got started combining on Monday and the first field has been fairly good quality, decent winter wheat, but it was some of the better looking wheat.
“It’s going to vary a lot from field to field. How many times it froze back this spring; where it rained that extra half inch, or even rained at all,” Hofer said. “There’s going to be a lot of variables that are going to play into stuff.”
It also depends on what was planted on the ground last year, he said.
The row crops are looking pretty good right now and so far they have always gotten rain when they needed it, but they need another rain today, tonight or tomorrow, Hofer said.
They didn’t get the rain last weekend that they needed, he said. But they have been lucky to get little half inch rains here and there.
They are way below normal average rainfall, Hofer said.
“They say you can grow a wheat crop on six inches of rain and a corn crop on nine. Since October, we’ve had like seven and a half inches of moisture,” Hofer said. “We will see how it all works out; it’s got to be timely.”
If they don’t see timely rains, he is concerned that they will have a short harvest and a lot of free time.
“It’s a lot more fun to farm when it’s raining,” Hofer said.