Planting for our future

Farm Forum

It truly is crunch time in ag land as we’re been dealing with the coldest spring in years. Many planters and tractors are set to roll, but with soil temperatures still in the 45-50 degree range, it’s still a waiting game. Our front page story was written at the beginning of the week. We hope by the time you’re reading this week’s edition that conditions are right for planters to roll across fields hard and strong. As a comparison, last year soil temperatures in the area were around 58 degrees.

Research tells us that corn will germinate and emerge slowly and unevenly when soil temperatures are less than 50 degrees F. When soils warm to the mid-50’s or warmer, emergence will occur in seven days or less if soil moisture is adequate.

It was reported that some farmers south of U.S. Hwy. 37 are getting in the fields to plant corn. With many in northeastern South Dakota using no-till or minimum till practices, the residue crop can hinder the sun’s rays from warming up the soil. We’ve received some moisture, and many are optimistic that drought conditions can be overcome once the seed gets in the ground. Snow is still hiding in some tree belts.

A friend of mine who traveled to Texas/Oklahoma said that the wheat crop there has been terribly hurt by freezing conditions, including some fields where temperatures dropped to around 18 degrees. Those fields will be torn up and planted with other crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday that just 12 percent of the nation’s cornfields had been planted. That’s about a quarter of what was planted by this date over the previous five years, and it marks the slowest start in decades in some states.

Commodity markets in recent months have shown continued volatility. Corn prices dropped about 80 cents in early April but jumped 40 cents early last week, with planting delays accounting for at least some of those swings, said Chad Hart, an Iowa State University agricultural economist. The price of corn remains healthy and allows for profit, he said.

As always, farmers and ranchers are a “tomorrow” people. We plan and plant for the future and wait for the rain to come and for the market to react accordingly — tomorrow. We know that tomorrow is another day and there is hope on the horizon.

Special occasion

We want to wish all those mothers in our coverage area a very happy Mother’s Day!


In our May 3 edition of the Farm Forum on Page 101F, the story “Drought, other factors weigh on livestock” from the Mitchell Daily Republic referred to the South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management Education, administrated by Mitchell Technical Institute, incorrectly as an SDSU Extension funded center. The South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management Program has a completely different mission and is funded and governed by the South Dakota Board of Education and not the South Dakota Board of Regents. Mitchell Technical Institute has administrated the South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management since 1996, and before that the Farm/Ranch Business Management Program was administrated by the four technical institutes. It has never been administrated by SDSU or the Board of Regents.

We are sorry that we did not catch this mistake before the article was printed.

Each week instructors for the Farm/Ranch program provide a column for use in the Farm Forum.