STANLEY COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — Along with our extreme heat, winter wheat harvest is underway across central South Dakota.
For some farmers, wheat harvest is going smoothly. But for others, there is not a wheat crop to harvest, as it was too dry for it to grow.
On Scarborough Ranch, northwest of Hayes, conditions are less than ideal for crops, especially wheat. This field was supposed to be filled with winter wheat, but due to the dry conditions they had to destroy the crop and attempt to grow a cover crop on the land.
“It’s actually been dry for a year and a half probably almost two years now. So we started with a poor crop last year and because of that, had less residue to plant wheat into last fall, so it was hard starting last fall to begin with,” said Marc Scarborough. “We had very little moisture over the winter very little snow, spring was dry, just got very little rain.”
On half his wheat acres, he planted a cash crop, on the other he planted cover crop.
“We always want something growing on the ground as much as we can. And then the benefit for us, the big benefit is grazing for the cows in the fall,” said Scarborough. “It helps us to save on our pastures in the fall to come and graze on our cover crop.”
While some farmers don’t have a wheat crop to harvest, others are out in the field in the combines.
“We’ve had a very erratic years over the past five years or more, with wetness, with drought, with prevent plant and so it’s really kind of fun to be into somewhat of a normal year now for harvest. That being said, for every corner of the state you could have a different story about what the wheat production looks like and how harvest is going to progress,” said Reid Christopherson, Executive Director South Dakota Wheat Commission.
South of Interstate 90 had the most ideal conditions for winter wheat production. At Jorgensen Land & Cattle in Ideal, harvest is underway.
“We started winter wheat harvest about a week ago and yields are actually very very good. I would say slightly above our running average,” said Bryan Jorgensen, agronomy operations COO at Jorgensen Land & Cattle.
Having high yields and quality are something he is thankful for in this market.
“Certainly, if the price and the commodity level the prices where they are, it’s really nice to have a good crop and going into the bin without hail damage and wind damage so we are pretty blessed,” said Jorgensen.
For those without a wheat crop this year, they are remaining hopeful as they look into the next year.
“We just take what God gives us and we deal with it and that’s about all we can do. And we know that we always look to next year I mean we always hope that next year is better and we’ve had two years of drought so I’ve got to believe that next year will be better,” said Scarborough.
South Dakota is in the top 10 wheat producing states in the nation, but the state has experienced a decrease in wheat acres over the past decade mostly due to changing weather conditions.