SDSU Extension publishes the South Dakota Pest & Crop Newsletter to provide growers, producers, crop consultants, and others involved in crop production with timely news pertinent to management of pests, diseases, and weeds in South Dakota.
The 2016 U.S. crop-year showed record acreage for soybeans and a large acreage for corn. The combination of more acres, warm temperatures, and adequately-timed rainfall events, resulted in also record yields. According to the NASS stocks for corn and soybeans have been increasing since 2014, a trend that’s likely to continue in 2017.
With the early onset of drought, many livestock producers are concerned about feed supplies. Annual forages may be an option for producers on unplanted fields with good moisture reserves or on failed fields when soil moisture levels improve.
Most of the Great Plains have always been considered a semi-arid area of the U.S. This Region is characterized by hot, relatively short summers (with a rainfall pattern), and usually cold, dry winters. Annual precipitation increases by almost 70 percent between the Western (East of the Rockies) and Eastern ends of the Region.
Dryness has been lingering in South Dakota for the last several weeks. The month of May was near average for temperature, and even a little on the cool side for the Eastern region. But now that temperatures have soared into the nineties and above, in combination with some wind, drought conditions have rapidly taken over Northern South Dakota.
It seems this year will be another challenging one for agriculture in South Dakota and the nation overall. In reality it might not be strikingly different from the three previous ones albeit with maybe somewhat tighter margins. US agriculture is increasingly dependent on global markets, and the success or not of their own agricultural production.
There was a time in agriculture when greater yields always meant greater profitability. Today’s economic environment is characterized by high input costs and depressed commodity prices. Under this scenario when the optimum input/output relationship has been attained, more inputs do not necessarily result in greater returns on investment. Therefore, todays’ agriculture paradigm requires management that addresses production “optimization”. This is the point where a previously known level of inputs maximizes outputs before incurring into greater investments that result into diminishing returns.
Two-year corn-soybean rotation coupled with heavy chemical inputs has become the routine practice of agricultural production in the Midwestern United States. According to USDA/NASS data, corn and soybean prices received by producers in South Dakota both reached the peak levels of $7.39 and $16.00 per bushel, respectively, in August, 2012. Such unprecedented price has driven up the acreage planted for corn and soybean, at the expense of other crops and grassland.
Cash prices are separated by region and a simple cash average price is then calculated for each specific region. The basis is calculated by subtracting the closing futures price of the nearby futures contract from the average cash price of grain in each of the six regions.
Cover crops are generally defined as crops planted between cash crops to cover and protect the soil. Some demonstrated benefits of cover crops include: reduced soil erosion, increased soil organic matter, increased biological diversity, increased nitrogen supply, and weed control. Depending on the farmers’ objectives, different species of cover crops can be planted. For example, if a farmer’s main objective is to increase nitrogen supply, then legume cover crops best suited to the farm area should be selected.