Farming

Extreme drought affects farmers in SE South Dakota

UNION COUNTY, SD (KELO) – Farmers continue to hope for moisture to alleviate drought conditions for their crops, but Tuesday’s heat isn’t helping.

Take a look at this graphic from the US Drought Monitor. While a lot of the state is dry, the area that really catches your attention is the red in Southeastern including Union, Clay and Yankton Counties.

US Drought Monitor Map for South Dakota

After last year’s extreme drought, farmers across the state continue to look for moisture.

Greg Heeran, a farmer near Elk Point, says this year has been even worse.

“We didn’t have any subsoil moisture coming in. We had a winter with no snow and we used up a lot of our subsoil moisture last year. And we raised a good crop last year, but we had nothing to go on this year,” Heeran said.

Moisture keeps missing that area.

“Rains go north, they go south, they go east, and I know they complain that they’re dry as well, but I don’t think there’s anybody that could be any drier than we are,” Heeran said.

We took a ride in his side-by-side to check his fields.

“Down here, we might have some corn here. It’s pretty decent here. You get up on that hill, there won’t be any corn. It’ll just be stalks,” Heeran said.

He says beans can handle the dry weather better, but they are still behind.

“These beans will be up to your waist. You can see they’re only to my knee,” Heeran said.

Alex Merrick is a sales agronomist and farmer near Beresford and says conditions vary in different locations.

“It’s just kind of crazy because you’ll have a beautiful looking plant and the next thing you know, you barely have a four-foot tall corn plant and it’s really struggling to pollinate. Really, really hurting from this heat,” Merrick said.

At this point in the season, Merrick and Heeran say the damage has been done.

“I just don’t think that we have enough time to really get back to normal or even close,” Merrick said.

“Rain would probably help on the beans. I don’t think we’re going to see anything on the corn at this point. It’s pretty well done. What’s there is all that’s going to be there, and it can only get worse but it can’t get better,” Herren said.

At the end of the day, Mother Nature is in control.

“Hopefully a lot of those guys can keep their heads up. It’s been a pretty tough summer and I know a lot of people get frustrated, but it will rain again, hopefully soon,” Merrick said.

While crop insurance relieves some of the pressure farmers are feeling this year because of the drought, there are resources you can use if you’re feeling stressed. You can call the Avera Farm and Rural Stress Hotline at 1-800-691-4336.

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