Leola area rancher discusses drought challenges


NEAR LEOLA, S.D. (KELO) — A longtime rancher in north central South Dakota says ‘pray for rain.’

Craig Bieber and his wife own Bieber Red Angus Ranch, west of Leola. He’s been involved with cattle his whole life.

“1988 we barely greened up that year,” Bieber Red Angus Ranch owner and operator Craig Bieber said.

This year’s drought comes close, but he says it’s spottier than past years.

“There are areas that are not very far to the west of us that are really in tough shape,” Bieber said.

But he too is dealing with drought in his red angus seed stock operation.

“Water is probably the biggest issue right now. Making sure that the surface water–we do have a lot of piped water, but making sure water is of quality,” Bieber said.

Bieber took KELOLAND News to a pasture that he can typically graze twice a season, but it’s a different story this year.

“This year, because of lack of moisture, we are not going to be able to graze it a second time,” Bieber said.

Ultimately, that could add up to higher costs for his operation.

“We really need the kind of five-day rain event that produces 2-3 inches that can soak up the soil. And even that at this point is a little too late for a lot of things,” Bieber said.

But he says that could set him up for next year in this work that he loves.

“Ultimately, there’s going to be another year and hopefully next year will be a little better,” Bieber said.

Some areas of KELOLAND did get an inch or two of rain Wednesday, but people in Bieber’s area weren’t so lucky.

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