Despite record amounts of snowfall in South Dakota over the winter, farmers are surprisingly getting into the fields to plant early. Many expected delays in planting after a tough winter. However, ideal planting conditions and warm, dry soils have allowed farmers to get a head start on their planting schedules.
Todd Hanten, who farms near Goodwin in the northeast part of the state, said, "We had over 50 inches of snow here at our place and it was, I just thought we’re going to have a late spring and it's going to be wet out there." Castlewood farmer Chad Schooley agreed, saying, "Three weeks ago, I never would have guessed that we’d be in the field, and it would be fit. There were still snowbanks in the shelter belts and the fence lines.”
Despite a cold April, soils have warmed up and dried off, which is a big contrast to the wet spring experienced in 2022 in northeast South Dakota. Hanten remarked, “We’re planting today, and the topsoil is perfect. There’s good subsoil moisture, and I can go through every spot in every field."
Last year, Hanten had to take prevent plant when 20% of his ground sat idle. However, he won't have to do so this year. He said, "Most everybody that I’ve talked to says prevent plant acres are right now probably not going to happen in South Dakota, but they do believe that they’ll get it planted at this point.”
Planting has been progressing quickly, and farmers are going 24-7. Schooley reported, “We’ve been running two rigs 12, 16 hours a day so we can put 600, 700 acres away in a day. It doesn’t take long.” He is caught up to his normal planting pace, saying, “We are about 80% done on soybeans and probably 60% to 65% done on corn.”
With farmers making the most of the ideal planting conditions, they are confident of meeting their targets for the year. The early start to planting could also help mitigate potential weather risks later in the season.