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USDA forecasts a record-setting year for South Dakota ag production

Brent Duerre

The United States Department of Agricultural forecasts an overall increase in crop production in South Dakota this year.

The USDA predicts a record year for corn production in the state. The department expects of 850 million bushels of corn. That is an increase of 28% percent over last year.

Doug Sombke is the President of South Dakota Farmers Union. He said a large yield in corn sometimes means less money for the farmer.

“It lowers the price the farmers are paid. Quite dramatically actually. Matter of fact, even the premiums that everyone expects from ethanol plants has gone down. I know elevators that are paying more than the ethanol plants right now,” said Sombke.

The USDA said soybean production in the state is up 15% percent from last year, with a yield forecast of 44 bushels per acre.

Keith Alverson farms corn and soybeans near Chester. He agrees with USDA’s positive forecasting but said it does not apply to every farmer.

“I think conditions across the state still varied. I know that there is certainly some areas of the state that didn’t have very good yields and really where hit hard with the drought. But, in our area, it was just the timeliness of the rains. We still were behind normal in rainfall, but the rainfall that we did have came at pretty opportune times for crop production. So that was really what set this year apart from last year,” said Alverson.

Sorghum is an often-overlooked grain that has become increasing popular among producers in the state. The USDA reports sorghum harvest acreage in the state has increased by almost 50% compared to 2022.

Alverson said a contributing factor to this rapid production of sorghum is drought. The crop performs better than others in dry conditions.

“I think folks might look to sorghum to replace corn in those acres, especially as you go to the central part of the state where droughts are a little more frequent. A way to diversify your crop production in the central part of the state,” said Alverson.

The USDA said sorghum production has grown in the state by over 70% percent since last year, with a forecast of 80 bushels per acre.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.