Corn planting catches up

Farm Forum

Have you been feeling “under the weather” lately? Many farmers breathed a sigh of relief last week as they finished up planting corn. Estimates are that 2.4 million acres of corn were planted from May 13-19 in South Dakota. About 95% of the corn planted will include biotechnology traits. These traits allow farmers to reduce their pesticide applications, energy use, and the plants require less water, are more efficient with nitrogen, and will produce more per acre. (If you want to share more about biotech, send your friends to

What made those planting numbers so awesome was that it was followed by a slow, gentle rain that bathed the state, starting on Friday. We were slow on getting our rain gauge out, but from what neighbors say and our “puddle index,” our area received more than three inches of much needed rain. The reports say that 75 percent of the corn is planted which is 6 percent above the five-year average.

With that, we’ve seen many fields where you can “row” the corn in the fields. With the rain and warm temperatures, statewide more than 16 percent of the crop has emerged. Even though the total is behind normal, the rain will help to sprout those seeds and set things off to a great start.

Soybean planting rated 28 percent complete, behind last year at 60 percent and equal to 28 percent of the average.

There are still plenty of beans to plant, but the moisture brought life to a lot of struggling pastures. One of my cousins near Timber Lake was excited to report they had 5 inches of rain, and reports have been that the Black Hills have received a bunch of rain as well as the Yankton area. Some areas haven’t seen that much rain for more than a year.

Farmers and ranchers don’t want to say no to moisture, but for now, most have been praising the rain and are now anxious to get the spring’s work completed.

Nothing fresher

We had one of the newspaper reporters and a guest, Vince, from New York City visit Friday night. We mixed supper with an educational experience for them. Warmer temperatures brought out spears of asparagus in our garden. There’s nothing better than to pick the vegetable, drizzle it with a little oil and broil it for a few minutes. Our supper included a buffalo roast with the meal topped off with rhubarb cobbler. Vince’s hearty appetite showed his appreciation for the South Dakota food.

As with many city folks, it’s always a delight to share what farm equipment does and to talk about how corn and soybeans grow. There were still stems of soybeans in the combine when Dale explained how the machine works. I’ve saved some dried plants in the house to show how pods grow on a stem. We talked about the benefits of genetic modification to seeds to get to the production levels that we have today. We also shared our knowledge of organic products and the amount of intense work that’s required.

For a rainy Friday night, it was a great discussion and reminded us once again how important it is to share that type of information.

Saturday, I planted the rest of my garden. I was optimistic that I could finish on Sunday, so I put the bedding plants out. I should have put in my beans and carrots, too. Having the rain water the garden is great, and once I get the other seeds in the ground, it shouldn’t take long for new plants to catch up.