NE SD corn looks good; soy recovers from hail
TWIN BROOKS, S.D. — Corn is looking good but soybeans are "sketchy" in some parts of northeast South Dakota, after a hail storm on July 10.
Harlan Bohn, 63, and his son, Greg, raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa on a small farm. They have 140 acres each of corn and soybeans and 100 acres of alfalfa along the south fork of the Whetstone River, which ends up in Big Stone Lake. They also rent about 200 acres of pasture for their registered red and black Angus and commercial stock cows.
"My corn started tasseling around July 10," Harlan said, in a July 24 interview. "The warm weather, the heat units: I think corn is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule."
The beans — healing up after what he recalls were dime-sized hail — were short, but flowering and setting pods. He said the stalks have damage that makes them susceptible to wind or disease and breaking, but he hopes they'll recover. "They always say August is the bean month," Harlan said.
In areas just to the east, where farmers just had rain and missed out on the hail, crops were looking better, Harlan said. His farm received 2.5 inches on July 10 and another .75 inches since. "As far as moisture, we're sitting really good," he says,
"The biggest challenge this year is making alfalfa hay," Harlan said. "I haven't made a good bale of hay yet. Sporadic rains and high humidity have prevented hay from curing nicely.
Harlan and Mary had been milking about 100 dairy cows until 2009 when the financial projections didn't work. They sold the cows and he took off-farm work. In 2012 he took an off-farm job managing the warehouse at Stengel Seed and Grain Processing facility at Milbank. "We switched to the beef cattle," Harlan says. "We've always enjoyed working with cattle and the angus cattle keep our 'itch scratched'" for livestock work.
Meanwhile, Greg took a job as a district sales manager for Semex USA, a Canadian-based bull stud company. Greg sells semen and products for artificial insemination primarily for dairies in a territory that includes North Dakota, South Dakota, southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa. His own crop looks as good as most of what he's seen, except for areas that have been hit by excessive rain or hail.
Greg says one of the main things on his mind are the trade and tariff implications. His customers are concerned about dropping commodity and milk prices, with margins "continuing to narrow every day." Many are having a hard time bringing next generations into farming businesses.
Greg and his wife, Andrea, have three children, ages 4 to 13. Andrea also works at Stengel Seed and Grain and coaches gymnastics. Andrea's parents farm and Greg is the fifth generation on his farm. "If my kids have interest in it, I hope they can be the sixth" generation, he says. That may depend on finding a niche or combining farms to make it work for the next generation, he says.
In late July the Bohns were busy training Boer goats that they'll show in the South Dakota State Fair which runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 3 in Huron. Hopefully, things will turn around in time for the kids, Greg says.