Flood Losses Loom for Some South Dakota Farmers

July 14, 2014

Soybean and corn crops are progressing well in South Dakota, agriculture officials said, though farmers in the eastern part of the state could suffer some losses after heavy rains flooded portions of many fields.

Gregg Ulrickson, owner of Crop Insurance Specialists in Canton, said several soybean farmers have told him parts of their fields were flooded after last month’s rains.

“If the beans were small and they got covered up for a couple of days, they’re pretty much cooked,” Ulrickson said.

Corn plants that were a little taller had a chance of peeking out over the water level to escape with just a little bit of yellowing.

“They got a chance to survive,” Ulrickson said.

More than 8 inches of rain fell on parts of Lincoln County on June 16. Canton, where about 1,100 homes were flooded, received a record of nearly 20 inches of rain in June. Damage to roads and bridges topped $2 million, county officials estimate, but a crop damage estimate was not available.

Ulrickson said most loss claims will not be filed until after the fall harvest, as many farmers whose land flooded have at least some acres that remained dry.

“Usually it’s a portion of the field that’s underwater, not the whole thing,” he said.

Just to the north, Minnehaha County FSA executive director Larry Olsen said an estimated 8 to 15 percent of the county’s planted crops were lost from heavy rainfall and hail damage.

“The hail storm covered a fairly big area, but it really varied in intensity,” Olsen said. “Some, unfortunately, got hit very hard whereas some, just maybe some corn was stripped.”

The corn condition in the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture crop report was rated 1 percent very poor, 2 percent poor, 17 percent fair, 67 percent good and 13 percent excellent. The crop is growing at a pace consistent with the five-year average, with corn silking at 5 percent, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The soybean crop condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 3 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 67 percent good, and 9 percent excellent. About 39 percent of the crop is blooming and 4 percent is setting pods, ahead of the five-year percent average.

Ulrickson said the switch to warm, dry weather since the flooding has helped the crops that made it through.

“It was quite dry when we put it in, then we starting getting rain,” he said. “Since the flood, the weather has turned warm and dry, which has helped many crops thrive.”

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