wheat field

A South Dakota field of winter wheat this spring.

The end of May ended the wettest year in South Dakota’s weather-record-keeping history, says Laura Edwards.

She’s the SDSU Extension State Climatologist in Brookings.

In her June 2019 Climate Outlook published June 7, Edwards said the 12 months from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 was “the wettest 12-month period in 124 years of record-keeping” in South Dakota.

Things have been dryer and warmer so far in June. But later this month, the trend will be to cooler and wetter than normal across much of the state, Edwards says.

The crop planting remains well behind normal schedules, even though the state's farmers had 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork in the week ended June 9, after getting in 3.4 days the previous week, according to USDA's weekly crop progress report issued Monday.

On Monday, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sioux Falls reported that 64 percent of the state’s corn crop was planted by Sunday, June 10, compared with 99 percent by now in the five-year average. Only 34 percent had emerged by Sunday, compared with 92 percent in the five-year average.

The corn crop’s condition was ranked good across half the fields, fair on 36 percent, excellent on 5 percent, poor on 7 percent and very poor on 2 percent.

NASS’s survey of county extension agents and other crop watchers pegged soybean planting as 43 percent complete, compared with the five-year average of 93 percent by now.

Only 11 percent of the soybeans had emerged, well behind the 76 percent average pace the past five years by this date.

Spring wheat planting was 96 percent complete, when normally it’s been complete for weeks by now; 89 percent of the crop has emerged, compared with 97 percent in the five-year average.

Spring wheat’s condition was rated good on 62 percent of the acres, excellent on 7 percent; fair on 30 percent and poor on only 1 percent.

Sunflower seeding was 19 percent complete, compared with 54 percent by now in the five-year average.

Pasture and range conditions were ranked good on 52 percent of acres, excellent on 19 percent, fair on 24 percent, poor on 4 percent and very poor on 1 percent.

Topsoil moisture was surplus on 36 percent of acres, adequate on 61 percent.

Subsoil moisture was surplus on 41 percent and adequate on 58 percent of acres.

Winter wheat condition was rated excellent on 4 percent, good on 56 percent, fair on 34 percent, poor on 4 percent and very poor on 2 percent of fields.

The too-much moisture and the too-few days to get out in the field mean farmers have not been able to get as much nitrogen applied to wheat crops this spring as they will need, said Ruth Beck.

In an article updated June 7 in SDSU’s Extension website, Beck, an extension agronomy field expert based in Pierre, said a lack of nitrogen can cut yield and protein in wheat crops. Protein is a quality factor in wheat and normally more of it per kernel means premium prices to farmers.

But the high water this spring has not been good for nitrogen application, making it impossible or difficult to even get into some fields to apply nitrogen after planting because of muddy conditions.

“Even in fields that had adequate nitrogen application, there could be concern as some nitrogen maybe have been leached or denitrified with heavy rains,” Beck wrote, referring to the chemical process in which nitrates are reduced in wheat plants.

Beck said it might be worth it to take tissue and soil tests from such wheat fields to see if more measures are needed to add some nitrogen.

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