Crop dusters flying out of state due to drought

KELOLAND.com Original

ONIDA, S.D. (KELO)– When you think of drought conditions, you don’t typically think of the planes flying in the sky. However, the drought has a direct effect on aerial applicators and their businesses.

Terry Barber, Owner and President of Brett’s Spray Service, says it has affected his business quite a bit.

“The wheat acres were probably 20 percent of what they normally would have been, just due to that there’s not a crop worth spraying there,” Barber said. “So yeah, we’ve been extremely slow this year.”

During a drought, it is significantly tougher to kill weeds. They have to use higher rates of application on the fields because everything is drought stressed and it takes more to kill the weeds, which in turn, costs more.

“There wasn’t a whole lot to spray this year, so I mean obviously our pilots they didn’t have anything to do,” Barber said. “They make their income off acres sprayed so we have been trying to find some work out of state…it’s been a struggle.”

Some of the states Barber has been sending his pilots to include Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.

Barber has seen some local producers deciding not to spray their fields this year because the crop is not worth it.

“The winter wheat is not great; spring wheat was really bad,” he said. “[Producers] did the minimum that they had to do just to keep it clean.”

Wheat spraying has ended, but Barber is glad that they have started to see some rainfall in the area, which will help the fall crops.

“The fall crop, you know, looks okay, so hopefully it continues and we will have something there,” he said.

Soybeans will need a timely rain. The corn and sunflowers are so far looking okay, but they definitely need some more rain, Barber said.

After a rainfall, they have to wait until the moisture is off of the plants.

“It would be nice to see some moisture going into fall and hopefully some snowfall this winter,” Barber said. “We just don’t have a lot of sub-soil moisture built up and that’s kind of where we started this year; we just didn’t have any reserves in the soil.”

They will continue to spray fields, typically until the end of August, he said.

It varies on the size of the field and how many gallons per acre are being used as to how long it takes the spray plane to apply chemicals to the field, he said.

Typically, in the area, Barber said some of the most common things they apply include wheat herbicide, wheat fungicide and sunflower pesticides.

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