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Rains slow down planting progress

Farmers in southeast South Dakota are feeling frustrated with planting conditions this spring.

After a month of snowstorm after snowstorm in April, farmers in the area are now dealing with rain after rain. Tea area farmer Tyler Urban said the general feeling he’s getting from other farmers is frustration.

“I think especially in the Lincoln County area, it’s been delayed planting the last three years. I think everybody just wants to get into a field and get planting versus plant for a day and wait four days, then plant for a day and wait four days,” Urban said. “You don’t want to mock the rain, but if we could go a couple weeks without some moisture after the snow we had, I think everybody will be happy.”

Urban said luckily they handled the snow pretty well. Another 2.5 inches of moisture is what has slowed down progress.

“If we didn’t have that snow, we could’ve handled the rain better,” he said.

While Urban was able to get in the field May 4, they have only planted corn for three days so far this season. Since the beginning of the month, they have had more than 2.5 inches of rain. Usually he tries to have everything planted by May 15. This year on May 15, he was sitting in the house after a full day of rain May 14.

According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s May 14 crop progress and condition report, farmers in South Dakota had 21 percent of the corn planted, which was far behind last year’s 71 percent and the 61 percent five-year average. Soybean planting was at four percent complete, which is behind last year’s 26 percent and the 22 percent average.

Urban, who is also a crop insurance specialist at First National Bank, said the final plant date for corn in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties is May 31 and June 10 for soybeans. With the slow progress, some producers may switch over to a shorter-day corn.

“You’ll probably see some guys switch. We’ve looked at maybe switching. If we don’t get a whole lot of rain, we’ll probably stay the course with our original plan, but if we get another couple of inches of rain this weekend, we’ll probably look at going to a shorter-day corn as well,” he said.

In the meantime, he will likely try to switch to planting soybeans on some drier ground before going back to planting corn.

“We might switch over and do some soybean fields. We’ve got some soybean ground that’s a little bit drier, a little bit lighter,” Urban said. “We might try to throw in some soybeans and switch back to corn and then finish up the soybeans. At this point, it’s kind of plant whatever we can get planted.”

While the rain is causing problems for grain farmers, it is helping alfalfa and pasture grass.

“It’s helping the grass and the alfalfa crops too. With the spring calving of cows on mud and snow, that was long,” he said.

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