Philip area ranchers say they’ve received less than half the normal amount of moisture in last 11 months

Local News

PHILIP, S.D. (KELO) – While recent rain has brought a ray of hope for some dealing with the drought in KELOLAND… others are still waiting. Another hot day is taking a toll on farmers and ranchers across South Dakota.

“I bought that land in 2004, and it never looked that bad,” owner/operator Slovek ranch, Bill Slovek said.

Bill Slovek is the owner of Slovek Ranch which is about 20 miles northwest of Philip. He says this year has been tough, and problems started months ago.

“In 2020 we had a good year up to July, and then it’s just like you turned off the faucet and it quit raining and everything got all dried out so we went into fall and winter very dry,” Bill Slovek said. “We had a weak root system and our grass already and then we throw on top of that not enough moisture, like less than half the normal moisture this year, it’s kind of a double whammy of what we are experiencing.”

He says annually they expect to see about 16 inches of rain. In the last 11 months, they’ve received seven inches.

“We either need to get some rain pretty fast or we are going to have to make some decisions we don’t want to make,” Bill Slovek said.

Bo Slovek ranches with his dad. He’s already had to make some adjustments due to the dry conditions.

“Things I’ve done to help out I guess is I’ve sent my heifers to a feedlot in Watertown to dry lot for the year, which is something I typically don’t do but that way it takes less stress on the grass that way,” rancher, Bo Slovek said. “It cost more but in the long run it’s better for the cattle on the ground and hopefully it starts raining and I can get them back and calve them out next year and keep them around.”

He says they received about an inch of rain last week, which helped. But there’s still a need for much more.

“We just need a good three or four inch soaker that soaks into the ground, an inch helps here and there but it’s so dry, the next day after an inch you don’t really notice any mud or anything like that, it’s basically dried up and gone,” Bo Slovek said.

With the combination of hot temps and no rain, the Slovek’s say that a lot of grasshoppers are eating the grass, which also takes a toll. Additionally, Bill Slovek says they own some land near Kadoka where for the last two years they’ve gotten between 850 and 900 bales off the field, but this year that’s not the case due to lack of rain.

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