SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota’s planting season is off to its slowest start in decades.
The wet spring has put corn and soybeans behind schedule. As of last Sunday, South Dakota farmers had planted only a quarter of the corn they intend to plant this year. That’s well behind the 90% farmers have usually planted by now.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop report, only 6% of soybeans were planted by Sunday. Normally, two-thirds of soybeans have been planted in South Dakota by then.
USDA state statistician Erik Gerlach told the Argus Leader this year has pushed 1995 out of the top spot for slowest planting season. That year, farmers had 43% of corn and 25% of soybeans planted by this time.
The percentages are a statewide overview of planting.
“Up north, they’ve got more of the crop in than around Sioux Falls and west of Sioux Falls,” Gerlach said.
South Dakota Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Maggie Stensaas said department officials are hopeful that farmers will be able to get through this year’s weather challenges.
“The (South Dakota) Secretary of Agriculture Kim Vanneman always says that what she’s learned in her experience is that agriculture is cyclical, and we’re in a downside and we’re going to get out of it,” Stansaas said. “They’re strong, they’re smart, and we will persevere. It’s just a tough time to get through now.”
President Doug Noem of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association says the wet spring has been “unprecedented” for corn producers.
“Last year, we raised about 800 million bushels of corn in the state, and this year we’re at 25% planting,” Noem said. “I don’t know if we get to 50% plant, we’d have 400 million bushels available, we’re not sure.”
Typically, Noem has April 20 as a target to plant corn on his farm south of Watertown. But he began planting May 15 this year and only had three days of planting. He does not plan to plant any more corn, but said he may plant some soybeans and then take prevented plant insurance coverage.