SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been a much greener summer in South Dakota.
Pastures and cropland alike have experienced much better weather conditions in May, June and early July compared to the hottest and driest June on record in 2021.
According to the latest crop progress report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, 75% of South Dakota’s corn was rated in good/excellent condition. That’s more than 50% better than the 24% rated good/excellent in early July 2021.
Farmers in the field agree crops are looking much better this year.
“We did not have a good crop last summer,” Bill Chase, who farms near Wolsey, told KELOLAND News. “We farm some land that was 10 miles away and it was a good crop. But right where we live, we were really short of moisture.”
Chase said there was pasture land he didn’t use for cattle because there wasn’t water in the dugouts, which are full of water today.
“The grass looks good. The alfalfa looks good. We’re working better off today than we were a year ago,” Chase said.
Larry Birgen, who farms around Beresford, said he planted his corn at the end of April. He said recent rain has helped his crop out.
“It’s just shoulder-high now and looking good,” Birgen said. “Last year, we had a lot of damage. A lot of corn went down because of the lack of moisture.”
Birgen said the corn was under a lot of stress the past few weeks because of the hotter temperatures and lack of rain. He said more 80-degree days and timely rains would help more than more 90-degree days.
“The upper 90s are really hard on things,” said Birgen, who has been farming for nearly 40 years.
Corn can be a resilient crop
Despite Tuesday’s derecho, which flattened many corn crops in the long line of the storm, corn producers are holding out hope the crop will bounce back.
Chase was going to be working with a crop insurance agent Wednesday afternoon to look at areas of farmland impacted by the storms.
“The corn this year was looking really good,” Chase said. “We still have good corn; we just have it laying on the ground today. It’s a quandary whether it will stand back up again and be good or whether it will gooseneck and have a curve stuck to it all summer.”
Chase, who has been farming for more than 50 years, said plenty of sunlight Wednesday should help the corn rebound after being battered by 70+ mph wind speeds and wind-driven rain Tuesday. He said when corn is taller, around shoulder-high, the stock of the plant can break off.
“They call that green snap,” Chase said. “As the corn gets bigger, it’s more prone to green snap than at this stage.”
Chase said his corn ranged from knee-high to waist-high when the storm hit. He said he knows he’ll lose some of his corn crop because of flooded fields.
“We have a lot of water standing around,” Chase said. “We’re gonna lose where the standing water is. The wind-driven (corn) with ripped up leaves, personally, I think it’ll come out of that pretty well, but I do not know what the stock will turn into.”
Chase said he’s harvested corn with a “gooseneck” curved stock before, but he called that process “a nightmare.”
Birgen said he remembered a corn field that was flattened by a storm that bounced back.
“After a few days, within a week, you can tell it kind of stood up really well again,” Birgen recalled. “I had average yields with it. It turned out well.”