Farmers praise ‘perfect’ timing of rain

Farm Forum

Rich Schlosser finished planting his last corn field on May 17 before the rains started later that night.

“It couldn’t have been better timing,” said Schlosser, who farms west of Frederick.

Now, he can have a couple of days to regroup before planting soybeans. Schlosser, like many farmers, had been pushing hard to get his crop in the ground during a compressed planting season. A late spring had pushed planting back about three weeks, but farmers said the rain now is welcome and has good timing.

The cutoff date for planting corn is often considered May 25 for northern South Dakota, the last day to plant before crop insurance benefits start to go down.

Much of the area has received at least 2 inches of rain since a storm system started moving into the area on May 17. Some areas west of Aberdeen received more. Roscoe received 3.21 inches of rain over May 17 and 18, while Gettysburg received 2.4 inches over those two days.

While farmers need rain because of a dry 2012, most wanted the rain to hold off until their crops could be planted. They got what they needed.

“The timing of the rain could not have been better,” said Ryan Wagner, who farms in Day County. “It was just about perfect.”

Wagner said he has all his corn planted except for some land in low-lying areas. He has planted about 15 to 20 percent of his soybeans. His wheat was planted earlier and is now sprouting because of the rain.

“It is sitting pretty good,” he said.

Wagner said there is still plenty of time to get the soybean crop planted. Soybeans can be planted until June 10 before crop insurance benefits decrease, he said.

Not only is the rain helping crops, but it will also help livestock. Schlosser, who raises beef cattle, said pasture was in dire need of moisture.

“This rain was needed even more for pasture than the grain,” he said. “My pastures were in critical shape.”

His alfalfa, which he will cut for hay, has grown 3 to 4 inches just in the past two days, he said. It is important to get a decent first cutting for hay because hay prices are high. Those who have hay on hand had to feed it to their cattle longer than usual because of the late spring, he said.

David Clark, an agronomist with Wheat Growers, said that, in this area, 85 to 90 percent of the corn crop was in the ground. He estimated that 30 to 35 percent of the soybeans have been planted.

Those estimates are a bit above the state averages, according to the weekly USDA crop report released on May 20. The USDA reported:

·Statewide corn planting rated 75 percent complete, behind last year at 91 percent, but ahead of the 69 percent average. Sixteen percent of corn has emerged, behind last year at 60 percent and 24 percent average.

·Soybean planting rated 28 percent complete, behind last year at 60 percent and equal to 28 percent average. Soybeans were 1 percent emerged, behind last year at 18 percent and 5 percent average.

While farmers got a late start, they have made up for lost time, Clark said.

“It is unbelievable the amount of ground farmers can cover today,” he said. “The amount of corn and beans planted in the last couple of weeks has been phenomenal.”

See RAIN, Page 6F