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Drought has South Dakota’s harvest ahead of schedule, but yields and soil moisture are down

By: - October 27, 2022 4:40 pm
Dave Fendrich (walking) helps Bryant Hofer (in combine) harvest a field of corn on October 2, 2013, near Salem, South Dakota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Dave Fendrich (walking) helps Bryant Hofer (in combine) harvest a field of corn on October 2, 2013, near Salem, South Dakota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

South Dakota farmers had harvested 64% of their corn and 93% of their soybeans as of Sunday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That puts the 2022 harvest well ahead of the five-year average for those crops. However, Brian Top, a farmer and South Dakota agriculture consultant, said the harvest is only ahead because of the drought. 

“The crop matured early. The grain dried down, so we don’t have to spend money on drying costs,” he said. “And therefore, the farmers were able to go out, get an early start, and they’re going to wrap things up early.”

But those dry conditions come with a downside. About 83% of South Dakota soil is short or very short on moisture, and crop yields are down in many areas.

Dry conditions cause yield loss,” Top said. “There are areas as low as 40 bushels on corn and 20 on soybeans, and that is way below average.”

Top said the few places that got rain did well. 

“I talked to guys that are getting 190 to 210 on corn,” he said, referencing bushel-per-acre amounts. “I personally got 70-bushel soybeans, and so with the price the way it is, that’s going to make a good year.”

Sorghum and sunflowers are behind the harvest pace compared to last year but ahead of the five-year average, the USDA reported. 

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Joshua Haiar
Joshua Haiar

Joshua Haiar is a reporter based in Sioux Falls. Born and raised in Mitchell, he joined the Navy as a public affairs specialist after high school and then earned a degree from the University of South Dakota. Prior to joining South Dakota Searchlight, Joshua worked for five years as a multimedia specialist and journalist with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

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