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South Dakota Farmers Share Thoughts Going Into Planting Season 2022

Lake Preston farmer, Wayne Soren fills his planter with corn seed this spring.
Courtesy Photo
Lake Preston farmer, Wayne Soren fills his planter with corn seed this spring.

There’s a lot at stake as South Dakota farmers fill planters with seed and head into their fields this spring.

2022 commodity markets are up 62 percent over the 10-year average.And at the same time this growing season began with much of the state in drought conditions.

“Springtime to me is exciting time because you get to see everything wake up from winter …I have cows and calves, so every spring to me, you drop some calves on the ground and that’s the beginning, then you see the regeneration of life. Then you start to plant, and you see the regeneration of life,” Wayne Soren says.

Farmer Wayne Soren raises crops and cattle South of Lake Preston, South Dakota. He says there’s another reason for optimism this spring.

“This is probably one of the most exciting seasons to begin in, in quite some time because the prices of crops are so high,” Soren says.

Although he’s optimistic as he drives his planter into his corn field, the third-generation farmer is concerned about one thing. The drought.

“That’s one of the dark clouds that sits above. Are we going to get enough rain to grow a crop this year? ” Soren says.

Soren is not alone in his concern. According to U.S. Drought Monitor data, as of April 26, 71 percent of South Dakota was in drought conditions.

In fact, the drought was so severe that on April 26th, 36-year-old Kimball farmer Adam Schindler said he had witnessed a few dams dry up on his family’s farm.

“There’s a couple dams, you know, dugouts for cattle, that I’ve never seen completely dry – just in the last week or so,” Schindler says.

Ethan farmer Matt Bainbridge can relate. In our April 26 conversation Bainbridge, his brother, Neal and dad, Lewis were getting ready to plant corn.

“I’m really concerned. I’d like to see it rain a little bit, but we’re just going to go out and try to plant corn right now. So, I guess I’m pretty focused on getting the crop planted and hopefully catch some rain and hopefully take advantage of really good commodity prices,” Bainbridge says.

Optimism paid off for Bainbridge, Schindler, Soren and many others with an end of April rain.

The relief this moisture provided is evident when checking in with these same farmers since the rain fell.

“I’m feeling better now. So that really helps out. All we need now is some sunshine and everything should get off to a good start,” Bainbridge says.

“We got a large rain. Probably the biggest rain we’ve had in two years. Dams are completely full over the last three days. Yeah, we’re pretty much at max for soil moisture at the moment. I would say we got almost four inches… I was cautiously optimistic last time and I am wholly optimistic at the moment,” Schindler says.

“I got 2.15 inches. The planting season is a lot better now. Two-inches goes a long, long ways. Does this break the drought? I don’t think so. But those 2-inches gives us a good chance to get everything up and started,” Soren says.

Following the late-April rainstorms, the May 5th U.S. Drought Monitor data shows 69 percent of the state remains in drought conditions. That’s a 2 percent improvement as farmers head into the 2022 Planting Season.

Lura Roti grew up on a ranch in western South Dakota but today she calls Sioux Falls home. She has worked as a freelance journalist for more than two decades. Lura loves working with the SDPB team to share the stories of South Dakota’s citizens and communities. And she loves sharing her knowledge with the next generation. Lura teaches a writing course for the University of Sioux Falls.