South Dakota crops take a hit from recent flooding

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — The recent flooding in southeastern portions of South Dakota, in addition to lower than average temps and an already wetter than usual growing season has had a negative impact on corn and soybean fields, explained Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director.

“A few days back we were dealing with waterlogged conditions, the recent rains have resulted in outright flooding of fields,” Garcia said. “Although flooding impacts livestock, crops are likely going to take a larger hit. Corn and soybeans can likely be damaged or lost as a result of water saturation of the soil.”

Forage quality

As agriculture producers cut and bale alfalfa, Garcia is concerned about the quality of forage available.

“Care needs to be taken when baling alfalfa to do so at the right moisture. Current high moisture conditions can hamper forage harvest and storage and result in losses through heating and/or mold growth,” he said.

Garcia added that if rain penetrates uncovered bales left in the field, the moisture can lead to storage losses in excess of 15 percent and up to 25 percent when feed-out losses are included. “Be aware that hay stacks may have received water in the base which will lead to molding and heating,” he said.

Livestock health issues

Challenges that flooding causes for livestock producers, according to the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network include:

• Contaminated food and water supplies

• Standing, stagnant water

• Mosquitoes

• Livestock carcasses

• Sharp objects transported or blown into pastures

• Sick/diseased animals

• Wild animals displaced by floodwaters

• Damaged barbed wire fences and gates

• Weakened barns and other structures

• Eroded and unstable creek beds

“Producers need to be aware of additional health issues,” Garcia said. “There have been reports post-flooding of higher infectious abortions caused by IBR and Leptospira as well as respiratory disease particularly in young calves.”

He added that flooding creates a stressful situation for cattle and as such their immune system can be challenged. “Considering this weather situation will not be over yet, a successful vaccination plan devised by a local veterinarian is a good strategy,” he said.

Mycotoxins in feed

Another issue Garcia encourages livestock producers to be aware of is flood-damaged feeds and mycotoxins. “Farmers and ranchers should be vigilant and avoid feeding moldy feed and test for mycotoxins. This is particularly important in pregnant cows and young calves,” he said.

Too learn more about the impacts of flooding and potential countermeasures please visit SDSU Extension’s iGrow website at