Recent rain pushes back field planting progress

Elisa Sand

More than two inches of rain followed by cold and wet temperatures have provided extra challenges for farmers.

In a phone interview on May 11 Glen Crawford who farms near of Aberdeen, said he hasn't been able to get any crops in the ground yet.

Crawford said he was just getting started with field work, when about 2.5 inches of rain saturated the ground last week.

Shortly after that storm, photos were circulating showing water covering fields near Mellette and Groton. Neither farmer returned messages for comment.

That moisture, followed by cooler temperatures, has been slow to leave, and there were more chances of rain in the forecast.

The challenge now — farmers are quickly bumping up against the deadline to plant corn, which is May 25 for crop insurance purposes. The deadline for soybeans is June 10.

Farmers can plant later, according to Jack Davis, SDSU extension crops business management field specialist. But, he said, late planting comes with a 1%-per-day reduction in revenue guarantees for crop insurance.

Some crops are in the ground. According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Services, as of May 10, 51% of corn was planted with 7% emerged, which was ahead of 2019 and the five year average. About 23% of soybeans were planted with 1% emerged.

Spring wheat was also 75% planted.

Laura Edwards, state climatologist for SDSU extension said getting more than two inches of rain was a setback.

"We were just at the tipping point," she said. "If we had stayed dry we would have had plenty of planting progress. This pushed back a number of folks."

The storm brings above average rainfall for May, which is about .75 inches a week, Edwards said, and, it added moisture to fields that were still pretty saturated.

"When you get two inches or more of rain, that's a lot, and it was really the top couple inches that was drying out. The rest was pretty saturated."

Edwards said there's now farmers who are finding it difficult to plant and discussion among some farmers about prevented planting.

Prevented planting is a special provision with crop insurance policies that provides coverage if fields cannot be planted due to extreme weather conditions, according to information from USDA.

Several farmers used this option when water covered their fields last spring.

Edwards said the cooler temperatures early this week also haven't created those favorable weather conditions needed for the soil to dry out.

Edwards said the rain has set farmers back, especially east and northeast of Aberdeen, but warmer temperatures are in the forecast.

"We're going to see temperatures pushing 80 next week," she said. "Warmer conditions are on the way."