As in much of the area of South Dakota, “dry and hot” best describes the conditions in central part of the state in the area northeast of Pierre on the east side of the Missouri River. We have had some “scattered” rain showers in the area, but the crops here have relied upon “hit and miss” showers all summer. This area has not gotten an old fashioned “2-3 day soaker” all growing season. There is no question that this area has been negatively impacted by the dryer conditions than normal, which was only accented by the extreme July heat.
The hay and pasture crop yields in this area were considerably lower than normal so the short hay forage supply and pastures limited stocking rates are putting pressure on area livestock producers to provide ample feed for their winter feeding needs.
Due to the drought, there are some fields of corn already being cut for silage in the immediate Pierre area along with some windrowing of corn fields to be baled for winter forage. We have not started to cut silage on our farm yet, however, we are weighing options to salvage forage for cattle at this time.
Much of the dry land corn condition ranges from “short, dry and brown looking” to some taller greener areas in some fields. This next week’s weather will likely be a big deciding factor if there will be much of a corn grain harvest in this area. With all other factors in place, rain water is so critical along with the heat and humidity to determine potential yields. There is no doubt that yields have been drastically affected with very little moisture and high heat during growing and pollination periods of most of the fields of corn in our area.
Our operation does not have any irrigated crops, so I cannot comment firsthand about the conditions of irrigated row crops, but the extreme heat and lack of rain water, coupled with high energy demands for pumping water to the crops has likely been a challenge to area irrigation farmers as well.
This area of the state uses mostly a non-tillage practice for raising non-irrigated (dry land) crops, a method where farmers try to leave as much crop residue from the previous crops as possible on the surface of the soil as a mulch cover to help preserve moisture along with other benefits. However, with dryer than normal conditions this year in our area we simply lacked ample rains, and had too much extreme heat to grow a normal yielding corn crop. However, the lack of moisture and extreme heat is critical for Soybeans and Sunflowers as well.
I would encourage anyone in this area and other areas to email to firstname.lastname@example.org anything that pertains to the drought conditions in your area of South Dakota and the Midwest where you might be reading this.
-Submitted by Bob Yackley of Onida, SD. a member of a family farming and ranching partnership with headquarters in Onida, S.D., northeast of Pierre. The Yackley operation raises corn, soybeans, sunflowers, winter and spring wheat along with a commercial cow-calf operation and operates a cattle embryo collection business.