SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It may seem weird but farm planting season isn’t too far off. But, it does depend on the location in South Dakota.
“There was a lot of snow everywhere,” said DaNita Murray, the executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. Although the snow is melting rapidly in southeastern South Dakota and in the central part of the state, “it really changes as you go north,” Murray said.
Agri Partners works with producers from around Clear Lake and north to the Sisseton area.
In the Clear Lake area, it’s possible “we could be getting going around April 25,” said Rory Olerud, the chief executive officer of Agri Partners. That’s in contrast to the Sisseton area, “we’re probably five days ahead of them,” Olerud said.
Olerud’s comments were based on the weather and forecast as of April 10.
In a winter that dumped at least 80 inches of snow in Winner and 75 inches before the most recent storm in the Sisseton area, the timetable for spring field work and planting will depend on when the snow melts and how soon the soil temperatures warm up.
“By the end of the week, early next week, we will be spreading fertilizer,” said Jeff Schmiesing, the agronomy department manager for Central Farmers Cooperative (CFC). CFC covers from Sioux Falls to Mitchell, down to Yankton and back up in Salem.
“We’ve been very fortunate we’ve had a nice snow melt,” Schmiesing said. “It was really dry last fall.”
The dry soil has been able to absorb the slow melting snow, he said. The moisture is needed across the state.
The dry fields had been covered by snow since around December which kept the soil frost levels low.
Schmiesing’s fertilizer prediction was made on April 10 and based on the week’s and future forecast.
The forecast for the end of the week is for a chance of rain across most of the state.
“A nice rain…event doesn’t hurt a thing,” Olerud said. A nice rain would be a long duraration rain 2 inches or so with steady warm temperatures, he said. The rain will help melt the snow and also add to the moisture in the soil, he said.
The weather forecast is for some 80-degree days in the Sioux Falls area, with 70 degrees predicted further north. Highs in the 60s are predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday in the Sisseton area.
Olerud said the warmer day temperatures will not including freezing overnight temperatures. That could cause faster melting and runoff but later in the week, temperatures of 50 and the 40s are predicted for Clear Lake and Sisseton.
The next two weeks should have a big impact on field conditions, Olerud said.
Although the state was pounded by weather, farmers would still be in the traditional spring planting window if planting starts in April or even May.
The spring planting window generally ranges from late April to mid-June in the state. South Dakota State Extension said the that historically, 10% of corn acres are seeded by mid-May. Yield levels can decrease with later planting dates.
Planting also depends on soil temperatures. According to SDSU Extension, if corn is planted before soil temperature reaches a three-day average minimum of 50 degrees, it may germinate slower and come up less uniform.
Soybeans need warmer soil. SDSU Extension said the three-day average soil temperature of 55 degrees is needed for higher germination. Soybeans can germinate at 50 degrees but it’s not ideal.
Soil temperatures vary across the state, according to the SDSU Mesonet weather tracking system.
As of April 10, the soil temperature in Webster in four inches of bare soil was 31 degrees. In the Sioux Falls area, it was 41 to 50 degrees. It was 44 to 53 degrees in Beresford.
Schmiesing said the sun and warmer weather has not only melted the snow it’s also melted the mood for many farmers.
“Big time,” Schmiesing said of the mood shift from concern and frustration with the winter to optimism for spring.
“We’ve had a tough winter. We’re all ready for spring,” Olerud said.