Flooding makes harvest, haying a hassle for local producers

Shannon Marvel
smarvel@aberdeennews.com

Saturated grounds and consistent rainfall are making fieldwork even more of a chore for area farmers and producers.

The wet conditions are going to make harvest a problem for folks like Bryan Anderson, who also works as the Day County Emergency Management director.

“I was lucky and got everything in. It was within normal planting time when it comes to the crop insurance dates. I was inside the margins, but it was probably two to two and a half weeks later than normally,” Anderson said.

“In Day County, I’ve never seen it rain so much this late in the season. It’s peculiar to have that kind of a winter — the rain never shut off. I’m not sure where we’re at now, but we’ve got to be close to getting 30 inches of rain for the season,” he said.

Anderson said he was able to plant soybeans in time, but whether he’ll be able to harvest them is another story.

“The majority of our ground is saturated with rain currently. We’re getting to the end of the growing season, which means we’re getting to the end of evaporation season,” he said.

“My soybeans look good, but right now my fields are entirely saturated that you can’t walk across them without sinking in. I’m very worried that we may not get the soybean crop,” Anderson said.

Anderson compared his situation to the flooding in the southeastern part of the state, noting that he’s lucky.

“I’m not going to complain because it could be worse, but on the other hand it’s like, come on mother nature. I’m in my 50s and have been farming for 30 years, and this is the most unusual late fall rain,” Anderson said.

The high precipitation has also forced the county to shut down County Road 17 northwest of Roslyn, which is also known as the Fort Sisseton road.

“The water is over the road in three places now. So we shut it down to through traffic. It takes time for the water to equalize through culverts,” Anderson said.

The wet ground also brought back memories of the intense flooding the area experienced in 2007 and 2010.

“This is not our first go around with flooding. People try to take it in stride. Normally the top of the hills have the worst yields but this year they’re the best,” Anderson said.

“For people who have cattle or livestock, it’s been a bigger problem,” Anderson said, referring to the difficulty cattle producers are having with haying and keeping the hay dry.

Carolyn Sanderson and her husband Bruce raise registered Red Angus cattle just a mile south of Claremont.

“We are just a small operation, so we run between 50 to 60 head,” Sanderson said in a phone interview on Sept. 19.

“We are wet, but it’s not as bad compared to what the southern part of the state is dealing with. In 2010, when we had the major flooding in this area — we have lived through flooding where all our barns and buildings were under water,” Sanderson recalled.

Because of that flooding, roads in the area have been built up but this year’s flooding has still put area roads under water, she said.

“Anyone that has cattle has seen putting up hay this year — it has been kind of a nightmare. You cut it, it gets rained on. I don’t know if we had put up any hay that didn’t have any rain on it at all this year,” Sanderson explained.

“We did get a field put up for square bales, and that was just this last rain where we ended up with five inches, but then the bottom bales all got wet and wrecked. It’s just been a nightmare as far as putting up hay. I’m sure every producer is dealing with that. Now we’ll have to grind our hay up, probably have to end up mixing it with something, so that’ll be more expense on top of that,” she said.

Sanderson said there is standing water in her family’s fields and yard. The family is behind in getting everything ready for winter, but she’s taking it in stride.

“That’s part of farming. I don’t know what plan you can go with. Plan A to Z, I guess,” Sanderson said.

The flooding has displaced some fish in the state as well, according to Tim McCurdy, a district supervisor with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department.

McCurdy said the office has documented paddlefish in the James River. That type of species is typically found in the Missouri River, he said.

“But because the water has been so high we’ve seen some paddle fish. We’ve gotten some reports of some pretty decent size,” McCurdy said.

“If you catch one, release it. You can take pictures of it, but make sure it’s back in the water,” McCurdy said, noting that there is no season for catching paddlefish in the state.

Bales of hay sit on the edge of a flooded creek bed near Lannie Mielke’s farm on July 2. Wet hay continues to be a problem faced by many producers. American News file photo by John Davis
Waterlogged corn grows in a muddy field farmed by Lannie Mielke on July 2. Mielke said nearly six inches of rain fell on some of his land at the end of June. American News photo by John Davis
Young corn plants stand in water left from heavy rains on June 20 in a field south of Aberdeen. Area farmers are at the mercy of the weather which can sometimes increase stress levels. American News file photo by John Davis