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    South Dakota Becoming an Agriculture Powerhouse

    In a May 7 article titled “South Dakota Becoming an Agriculture Powerhouse” the USDA analyzed the unprecedented agricultural growth that has been operating in the state during the last decade. In 2012, the year for which the latest Census was conducted, farmers and ranchers in the state sold more than $10 billion worth of agricultural products.

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    Precision Agriculture: Food Security Without Overburdening the Environment

    It is estimated that by 2050 the US will have a population of 402 million, 25.2% greater than today (U.N. 2015). In order to feed this population and sustain the country’s economy through commodities exports, agricultural output needs to increase by a similar amount by that year. These figures are projections based on current population and food production dynamics. Significant changes in any of these two parameters can accelerate or slowdown these trends.

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    Producer Feedback Sought on Wheat Varieties

    The South Dakota Wheat Commission is currently seeking information and feedback from farmers on wheat variety preferences and current production practices. Surveys have been mailed to producers across South Dakota (SD) with the goal of collecting information that can be used to guide researchers and breeders, so their work can better meet the needs of South Dakota producers and consumers.

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    Income, Computers and Internet Use in SD Farms

    Computer access, ownership, or lease increased in South Dakota farms by almost 9% between 2011 and 2013. This is very significant since between 2009 and 2011 there had been no changes. Computer use in state farms is currently nearly 6% greater than the average for the country.

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    Farms and Land in Farms: Defining our audience.

    South Dakota is clearly an agricultural state, farm size triples that of the rest of the US with one farm every 25 people compared to one every 154 for the nation. In 2014 the state had 31,700 farms in 43.3 million acres farmed with an average farm size of 1,353 acres.

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    Crop Variety Selection

    Farmers tend to be busy all year round. For crop growers, spring, summer and fall are times to get physically involved in the field whereas, winter is the time for in-depth planning and preparation for the subsequent three seasons. Taking time to plan on various aspects of crop production including variety selection will pay dividend at the end of the season.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Cost of Production

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a producer and landowner in which the final rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Depending on the type of flex lease, the rental payment is a function of crop yield, price, revenue, or cost of production. Often, a flex cash lease requires that the landowner accept the possibility of lower rent payments in poor production years in exchange for the opportunity to receive higher rent payments in good production years.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Price and Yield Together

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a landowner and operator in which the rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Unlike a fixed cash lease where the rent amount is determined prior to the beginning of field work, a flexible lease permits rent payment to adjust depending on final yield, commodity prices, cost of production, or some combination of all three. Flex lease arrangements have advantages and disadvantages for both landowners and operators.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Crop Price

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a landowner and operator in which the rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Unlike a fixed cash lease, the rent amount with a flexible lease adjusts depending on final yield, commodity prices, cost of production, or some combination of all three. Flex lease arrangements offer opportunities for landowners to benefit should commodity prices rise or better than expected yields occur.

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    Flexible Cash Lease Arrangements: Flexing on Crop Yield

    A flexible cash lease is a contractual arrangement between a landowner and operator in which the annual rent payment is determined after the crop has been harvested. Unlike a fixed cash lease, rent amount with a flexible lease adjusts for final yield, commodity prices, cost of production, or some combination of all three.

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    Low Temperature Effects on Winter Wheat

    Low temperatures during the early morning hours of May 19 may have had detrimental effects on winter wheat in some areas of South Dakota. According to the National Ag Statistics service, only 1% of winter wheat in South Dakota was in the heading stage as of May 17. Injury will probably be most severe in early-maturing varieties or in areas that have shown drought stress. Dry growing conditions can limit canopy development, which increases susceptibility to low temperatures.

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    Disease or Injury? How to tell the two apart

    Some parts of the state have had freezing conditions, high winds, and blasting snow. These conditions may have caused injury to crops. How do you tell diseases caused by living agents (e.g. fungi, bacteria), from non-living causes (e.g. herbicide injury, wind blasting injury, nutrient deficiency)? The display of symptoms on affected plants, and the location in the field of affected plants can provide clues.

    Read More »

    South Dakota May Precipitation Flip

    South Dakota entered the month of May with growing drought concerns (and rapidly increasing US Drought Monitor coverage and intensity) because of the dry period extending back through the winter and even into the fall over most of eastern South Dakota. Several stations set records in March and April. Precipitation total across South Dakota was the lowest on record statewide for January – April. Soils were increasingly dry with accumulating impacts.

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    Spring Cold Snaps: Effects on Crops

    Every year is different for crop producers in terms of seasonal weather conditions. Below freezing temperatures recently swept across eastern South Dakota. Crops respond differently to the weather stress depending upon growth stage and habit. In the second half of May, we can expect summer crops such as corn and soybean to be at planting or emergence stage whereas cool season crops like wheat and oat could be further ahead in the developmental stage.

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    Ammonia Loss from Urea

    Volatilization losses of ammonia from urea have been a major concern of producers and agronomists because of the lack of precipitation. The nitrogen (N) cycle is very complex as it includes all forms of matter: solid (fertilizer and manure), liquid (dissolved N as nitrate and ammonium) and gas (ammonia). The cycle is highly influenced by soil micro-organisms and enzymes, pH, moisture content of the soil and atmosphere, and temperature.

    Read More »

    A Rainy & Snowy May

    Finally, rain has come to South Dakota this spring season, and it is making a big splash. The four-day period of May 8-11 brought widespread rain and snow in the western counties. Total precipitation for the week was approximately three to four inches in most areas, which is at or above the typical average for the whole month of May.

    Read More »

    Are We Ready for a Prolonged Drought?

    A February 2015 NASA report suggests severe droughts in the Central Plains during the last half of this century could be more extreme and longer than those verified in the last 1,000 years. The agency further stated the dry spell would probably last for as long as three decades. This may not happen this year or even the next, but it will be progressive and the U.S. needs to be prepared. Parallel to this, it is also predicted that by 2050 the world population will reach nine billion people (FAO. 2014).

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    Cover Crops for a Dry Year

    An open, dry, winter, followed by a dry, warm spring has left the top soil in many areas of South Dakota much dryer than normal. Livestock producers may find themselves looking for supplemental feed this summer as a result of poor grass growth. In situations of moisture deficits most producers are not going to consider planting a cover crop.

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    U.S. Drought Monitor Shows Drought Conditions Worsen

    The U. S. Drought Monitor, released April 30, 2015 shows drought conditions have continued to worsen across South Dakota - accompanied by substantial agricultural impacts.

    Read More »

    Spring Assessment of Winter Wheat Stands

    Spring assessment of winter wheat stands can be fairly difficult. The decision to replant or “wait it out” depends on various factors. First of all, assess the level of plant death. By this point in the spring, it is fairly easy to evaluate. Earlier in the spring, the bag test – uprooting plants and placing them in a ziplock bag indoors for a few days – can give some indication.

    Read More »

    South Dakota Becoming an Agriculture Powerhouse

    In a May 7 article titled “South Dakota Becoming an Agriculture Powerhouse” the USDA analyzed the unprecedented agricultural growth that has been operating in the state during the last decade. In 2012, the year for which the latest Census was conducted, farmers and ranchers in the state sold more than $10 billion worth of agricultural products.

    Read More »

    Bees, Pollination and Agricultural Production

    The USDA recently reported the preliminary results of the Bee Informed National Management Survey. Overall, the total reported annual honey bee hive loss for 2014-2015 was 42 percent, which is greater than the losses reported in 2013-2014. This report is also the first time that summer hive losses were greater than winter hive losses (27 and 23 percent, respectively). However, the winter losses were less than those in 2013-2014 and they are below the 9-year winter loss average of 28.7 percent.

    Read More »

    Producer Feedback Sought on Wheat Varieties

    The South Dakota Wheat Commission is currently seeking information and feedback from farmers on wheat variety preferences and current production practices. Surveys have been mailed to producers across South Dakota (SD) with the goal of collecting information that can be used to guide researchers and breeders, so their work can better meet the needs of South Dakota producers and consumers.

    Read More »

    Gluten and Health: The Connection Between Gut Health, Food Sensitivities and Allergies

    Over the past five years, gluten and the proteins in wheat have received intense attention from the media and consumers. There are several reasons for this. First, celiac disease once thought to be rare (1 in 3000) has been documented to be much more prevalent than medical science had previously known - even though new data shows that it affects only 1 percent (1 in 133) of the U.S. population.

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    SDSU Extension Hiring Towards Food Security

    It is estimated that by 2050 the planet will reach 9.1 billion people, 34 percent more than today. To be able to feed this population, food production must increase by 70 percent. Regardless of where this population growth happens we need to step up as a food-producing state and nation and contribute to reduce social unrests spurred by food shortages.

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    Deconstructing a Wheat Kernel

    Like all grains, wheat began as a wild grass, and may in fact have been the very first crop in history. Historians believe the wheat kernel originated in the “cradle of civilization,” the Tigris and Euphrates river valley, near present day Iraq. In their natural state growing in the fields, whole grains begin as a dry, one-seeded fruit commonly called a kernel.

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    Back to Breakfast: Breakfast on the Run

    If your household is like most in America, mornings are a busy time. You’re on the way to work, kids on the way to school, pets have to be fed, and plans made for the day. It’s busy enough on standard mornings, but throw in a little hiccup – a missed alarm clock, a car that won’t start, a sick child – and the whole day can suffer. But even on the most rushed of mornings, you still need to eat a nutritious breakfast.

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    Understanding Plant’s Disease Surveillance

    Plants detect pathogens and protect themselves from disease in a slightly different way than animals do. A plant has several lines of defense any intruder must pass through: physical barriers, chemical barriers, and proteins at the molecular level. If the intruder makes it past all of these defenses, the cell still contains the NBS-LRR (Nucleotide Binding Site-Leucine Rich Region) proteins, one of the five types of disease resistance proteins produced by each plant cell.

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    Stripe Rust and Viral Diseases Developing in Wheat

    Several wheat fields were scouted in Hughes, Stanley, Pennington, Tripp, Gregory, and Douglas counties. Diseases developing at this time are stripe rust, wheat streak mosaic, barley yellow dwarf, and leaf spot diseases. Stripe rust was confirmed in Tripp, Gregory , Douglas and Union counties. Stripe rust is just beginning to develop, but could quickly develop to reach yield reducing levels. Reports from Southern Nebraska indicate severe stripe rust outbreak, indicating that there is a high inoculum of this rust in our area.

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    Be On The Lookout For Seedling Diseases

    Last week most of the state received much needed moisture. Unfortunately, our current weather conditions (cool and wet) are conducive for seedling disease development. Wet and cool soils favor most pathogens that cause damping off in corn and soybean. Slow growth, compacted soils, and heavy clay soils increase chances of seedling fungal infection. The first areas to inspect for seedling diseases are the wet spots and low laying areas of the field.

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    Disease or Injury? How to tell the two apart

    Some parts of the state have had freezing conditions, high winds, and blasting snow. These conditions may have caused injury to crops. How do you tell diseases caused by living agents (e.g. fungi, bacteria), from non-living causes (e.g. herbicide injury, wind blasting injury, nutrient deficiency)? The display of symptoms on affected plants, and the location in the field of affected plants can provide clues.

    Read More »

    Drought in South Dakota: Impact on insect activity

    According to the May climate and drought outlook, the majority of South Dakota is classified as being in a moderate drought. The less optimistic weather forecast indicates that crops are going to suffer intermittent moisture deficits during the growing season. When plants are water stressed, levels of free amino acids and sugars in the plants increase, which can enhance the performance of plant feeding insects.

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    Make Sure Your Commercial Applicator Certification is Up-to-Date for 2015

    If you are a new commercial applicator, or an existing applicator that needs to add new categories for 2015, now is the time to make sure your certifications are current and correct before you start to spray. Commercial applicators can check their certification status through the online Commercial Applicator Search.

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    Wet May: With More to Come?

    Memorial Day weekend rain continued to soak farmland, pastures and backyards around the state. Street flooding occurred in Midland, SD, where about five inches fell on Sunday alone. The driest areas were in central and southeastern South Dakota, with some stations reporting less than a tenth of an inch. The map below includes rainfall reports from around the state for the last week.

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    South Dakota May Precipitation Flip

    South Dakota entered the month of May with growing drought concerns (and rapidly increasing US Drought Monitor coverage and intensity) because of the dry period extending back through the winter and even into the fall over most of eastern South Dakota. Several stations set records in March and April. Precipitation total across South Dakota was the lowest on record statewide for January – April. Soils were increasingly dry with accumulating impacts.

    Read More »

    Ammonia Loss from Urea

    Volatilization losses of ammonia from urea have been a major concern of producers and agronomists because of the lack of precipitation. The nitrogen (N) cycle is very complex as it includes all forms of matter: solid (fertilizer and manure), liquid (dissolved N as nitrate and ammonium) and gas (ammonia). The cycle is highly influenced by soil micro-organisms and enzymes, pH, moisture content of the soil and atmosphere, and temperature.

    Read More »

    A Rainy & Snowy May

    Finally, rain has come to South Dakota this spring season, and it is making a big splash. The four-day period of May 8-11 brought widespread rain and snow in the western counties. Total precipitation for the week was approximately three to four inches in most areas, which is at or above the typical average for the whole month of May.

    Read More »

    Are We Ready for a Prolonged Drought?

    A February 2015 NASA report suggests severe droughts in the Central Plains during the last half of this century could be more extreme and longer than those verified in the last 1,000 years. The agency further stated the dry spell would probably last for as long as three decades. This may not happen this year or even the next, but it will be progressive and the U.S. needs to be prepared. Parallel to this, it is also predicted that by 2050 the world population will reach nine billion people (FAO. 2014).

    Read More »

    U.S. Drought Monitor Shows Drought Conditions Worsen

    The U. S. Drought Monitor, released April 30, 2015 shows drought conditions have continued to worsen across South Dakota - accompanied by substantial agricultural impacts.

    Read More »

    Spring Assessment of Winter Wheat Stands

    Spring assessment of winter wheat stands can be fairly difficult. The decision to replant or “wait it out” depends on various factors. First of all, assess the level of plant death. By this point in the spring, it is fairly easy to evaluate. Earlier in the spring, the bag test – uprooting plants and placing them in a ziplock bag indoors for a few days – can give some indication.

    Read More »

    Soil Moisture Levels

    Most everyone is recognizing the lack of precipitation during the winter and early spring in the northern plains and South Dakota. The impact of precipitation events on soil moisture is often unknown because we don’t know how much of the moisture enters into the soil. This is a very important factor which influences potential crop and forage production capacity.

    Read More »

    Soil Health Events Held Across South Dakota Can Now Be Viewed Online

    The South Dakota No Till Association, in cooperation with SDSU Extension and the USDA-NRCS, hosted many soil health workshops and field days across South Dakota throughout 2013-15. If you would like to hear the presentations from the soil health workshops, either because you could not attend the workshops or because you would like to listen to them again, the presentations can now be accessed on line at the NRCS’s Soil Health You Tube channel.

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    Responding to Field Fires

    There has been a rash of field fires over the last few dry years. Most of these have been in the central and western part of the State. The approach with dealing with field fires is three pronged: prevention, mitigation, and documentation.

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    • 2014 Variety Trial Results & Crop Performance Testing Data