Not in a generation has there been a year like 2019 for South Dakota farmers unable to access their fields to plant or harvest crops. Since May 1, 2019, only 95 days have been “suitable for field work,” for the state’s farmers, according to numbers calculated by Erik Gerlach at the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sioux Falls. That’s a month less of field work possible this year than in the same five-month span in an average year. On average, South Dakota farmers lost 32 days of field work this year due to the wet weather, from May 1 through Sept. 29 compared to the 25-year average.
With silage cutting historically taking place around Labor Day weekend, wet conditions are once again to blame as silage crews continue to scramble in the field while keeping a hopeful eye on corn and soybean harvest.
Abundantly flooded and saturated fields this fall have posed a challenge for some producers. Harvesting silage before corn dries past desired moisture levels or frost occurs can be a huge detriment.
According to SDSU Extension, if silage is too wet when harvested, there is a risk of butyric acid forming and nutrients being lost due to seepage. Silage that is over 70 percent moisture should not be harvested and should stand in the field for a few more days. On the other hand, if it is too dry, silage will not ferment or pack adequately, resulting in mold development.
As uncertainty remains high in the field, not-so-rosy news was released this week. As a result of freezing temperatures, snowfall and high winds across the northern Plains, the USDA’s latest Crop Progress Report released on Monday, Oct. 21 showed yet another week of slow harvest pace for corn and soybeans.