A wet spring has delayed planting so much that Moody County farmers are looking at not being able to work some fields at all this year.
An estimated 25 to 35 percent of the corn had been planted as of last week, with possibly 5 percent of soybeans in, said Joe Knippling, county executive director of the Farm Services Agency.
The wet ground is widespread throughout the county, he said. Whether farmers have been able to get in the field has depended on how their land drains and some won’t dry out for many weeks yet, he said. “Everybody’s gotten about the same amount of rain.”
The rains, sometimes just days apart, have been consistent all spring. Corn needed to be planted by May 25 to be fully covered by crop insurance. Farmers have until June 10 to plant beans under those regulations.
Each day after the deadline, crop insurance payouts decrease. That becomes a gamble for farmers, already stressed by the weather and left to wonder whether they will have an income. Some will plant and take reduced yields. Others will look for shorter maturity corn. Some will just put in a cover crop.
It’s the worst Knippling has seen since he started in his office in 1990.
“There’s just a million variables out there right now,” he said.
Melvin Kiecksee farms a small number of acres east of Flandreau but so far has only gotten 10 acres of corn planted. “What I’ve got left to plant, in the way it’s looking, I’ll be lucky if I get half of that planted because it is sitting in water,” he said.
Kiecksee, who has farmed since 1977, needs the corn to feed his livestock more than he needs a check for the crop.
“I will plant corn at least to the 10th or 15th of June,” he said. “I’d like to get another 50 acres planted.”
That means he will have to take his seed back and exchange it for some with a shorter maturity, maybe an 85-day-corn instead of 95, he said. The maturity this fall will depend on weather, too. “This is probably the worst we’ve seen. We’ve had some wet years, but it seems it’s always dried up so we could get the crop planted,” he said. “I don’t recall that it’s ever been as bad as this.”
On the other side of the county Jeff LeBrun has been able to plant more than many farmers. Much of his land is tiled and there are areas with a good natural slope and drainage.
LeBrun, who has farmed for 10 years, started planting corn near the Trent exit in April and planted only one field after the May 25 deadline.
He has two-thirds of his corn in.
“I don’t think I’ll plant anymore corn. I think it’s too late, and the stuff (ground) we have left is too wet,” he said.
He will try and get soybeans planted instead. He’s hoping the water standing in some of the corn won’t hurt it and knows the rest of the spring will be difficult to make progress.
“Anything that is left now is the tougher ground. It’s even wetter now (after the last rains),” he said.