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#Drought17: South Dakota Farmers Bale Wheat Crop

But what about corn and soybeans?

It’s no secret that North and South Dakota are bone dry. The U.S. drought monitor screams it loud and clear with colors indicating extreme drought to abnormally dry conditions covering the two states. What Extension agronomists are saying, though, is that crop conditions vary greatly from area to area.

With no significant rain in sight over the next 10 days, Dakota farmers are buckling up for some warmer temperatures and continued dry conditions. Like crop conditions, the weather across North and South Dakota throughout #grow17 has fluctuated a lot. 

Just a week ago, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue called for emergency grazing on all CRP plots in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota through September 30 because of the dangerously dry conditions.

“There are quite a few acres severely affected by drought, but we have some acres that are moderately affected and some that will be pretty much normal,” says North Dakota State University Extension agronomist Joel Ransom.

Wheat Taking a Hit

Ransom is certain that trend-line yields for spring wheat will be significantly down. What Ransom has seen is the same story the USDA tells in the latest Crop Progress Report. As of June 25, 27% of North Dakota spring wheat is in poor or very poor condition, 34% is rated fair, and only 39% is said to be in good to excellent condition. 

According to South Dakota State University Extension soils field specialist Anthony Bly, small areas like the southwest corner of the state have phenomenal looking wheat, but elsewhere it isn’t in good shape at all.

“Farmers baled the winter wheat, but spring wheat is on target for baling, as well,” says Bly. The USDA says 62% of South Dakota’s spring wheat crop is in poor or very poor condition. Only 12% of the total spring wheat crop in the state is considered to be in good or excellent condition. 

Corn, Beans, and Sugar Beets?

Bly says South Dakota soybeans are looking wimpy compared with corn across the state, which he attributes partly to late planting but mainly to dramatic temperature swings. 

“By and large, the corn is not too bad,” says Bly. “I do think the weather has affected how the plants look in the field.”

In North Dakota, Ransom doesn’t doubt that corn in some areas is burning up in the fields, but most of the state’s corn is grown in the eastern part of the state where moisture has taken less of a hit. 

“We’re a little early in the game to be too concerned about corn,” says Ransom. “If we have 10 days without rain, it might be a different story.”

Where famers are really suffering, Ransom says, is in the western and southwestern portions of the state. “Those who have cows as well as pastures that are now unproductive have to scramble to keep them alive and fed, so it’s been a pretty high-stress time for them,” he says.

On the other hand, Ransom says North Dakota sugar beet farmers are looking at the best crop they’ve ever grown. 

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