The Planted Row: It was an eventful week

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Farm Forum

After a beautiful day on Saturday (during which I performed some much-needed yard work), talk of crop planting was put on hold as temps turned cooler and precipitation moved into the area. From Sunday morning through Tuesday evening Aberdeen received 1.83” in what turned out to be a slow, soaking rain. Other parts of the state received snow.

Some say the precipitation will help pull the frost out of the ground, but I’m not smart enough to hazard any guesses about that. I know the rain will delay planting, but I’m hopeful that some of the moisture will stick around for a while. With talk of drought in the air, we may need it a little later in the season.

While the weather last weekend brought frustration to some and hope to others, it also brought tragedy to the South Dakota ag community. If you’ve read our front page story this week, you know that three prominent members of the livestock community and a crop sprayer lost their lives in an airplane crash late Sunday night. Poor visibility brought on by the weather likely played a role in the accident. While the investigation is ongoing, it is known that the plane clipped the blade of a wind turbine near Highmore.

It seems cruel that the same weather system that brought life-sustaining moisture to our state also played a role in the deaths of four men who made their livings by tending to the fruits of the South Dakota landscape. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of Logan Rau, Brent Beitelspacher, Nick Reimann, and DJ Fischer.

While reporters in the newsroom were working on Monday to discover the details of the crash, I kept one eye on another tragedy. My home state of Mississippi was experiencing an outbreak of tornadoes, and one clipped through the southern portion of my home county before moving on to cause some major damage in Tupelo. I knew my family’s farm was going to escape damage, but I was pretty worried about friends and family who live and work in Tupelo. I am thankful that they are all safe, but I’m sad to learn that 8 people in Mississippi lost their lives to the weather.

With so much bad news in the air, I was pretty nervous when I walked out of my front door on Tuesday morning into a snowstorm, but it turned out to be a good day. The snow turned into a light rain, and I enjoyed a wonderful experience. I was privileged to help out with the Ag Fair sponsored by the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee. Every year, the Ag Committee coordinates this event at Prairie Hill Farms for 4th grade students in Aberdeen. Groton FFA chapter members and local experts give presentations to the students about farm safety, horse care, and beef, swine, sheep and dairy production. It was very heartening to see the FFA students do such a wonderful job passing their knowledge down to the younger students. Their parents and their educators should be very proud to have developed such knowledgeable and well-spoken advocates for agriculture.

This year’s Ag Fair was special to me because my son, William, is in the 4th grade. It was great to watch him pay attention to the presenters and learn that so many of the products he uses daily comes from the farm. When I asked him what part of the Ag Fair he enjoyed the most, I expected it might have been getting to milk a goat or getting to pet so many farm animals. I should have known better. He said his favorite part was the simulated grain dust explosion that was part of the farm safety demonstration presented by Wheat Growers. Just like his old man, he’s drawn to the bright lights and loud noises. Still, he’s pretty smart, and hopefully, he will retain the information the FFA students gave him as well.