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    Towards a Circular Agricultural Economy

    In 2015 the USDA analyzed the unprecedented agricultural growth that has been operating in South Dakota during this century. It led the agency to label the state as a future “agriculture powerhouse”. While between 1997 and 2002 agricultural sales grew by only 4.7 percent, they jumped to 71 percent between 02’ and 07’, followed by an additional 55 percent between 07’ and 2012. It is likely the growth during the last five-year cycle was slowed down as a result of the 2012 drought.

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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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    Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus Management: Plan ahead before planting this fall

    Have you had a history of moderate wheat streak mosaic disease in your field? Do you plan on planting wheat into wheat stubble or wheat fallow? Have your neighbors had wheat streak mosaic disease outbreaks in the recent past? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to incorporate wheat streak mosaic control principles into your management plan before planting winter wheat this fall.

    Read More »

    Cover Crops: Species Selection

    Interest in cover crops in South Dakota is increasing. Farmers are growing cover crops as a monoculture or blend/s to improve soil quality and supplement forage needs. The frequently grown cover crops species in this region could belong to a broad group of plants such as warm or cool season grass, cool season broadleaf, brassica species, or legumes. One advantage of growing a blend over monoculture is it helps partition available resources to different plant species at different times rather than all plants requiring the same resource at the same time.

    Read More »

    Wheat Disease Implications for Crop Rotations

    The 2015 crop year provided South Dakota wheat growers with numerous challenges. The weather changed from one extreme to another. First it was dry and then it was wet with some areas experiencing extremely heavy rains and strong winds. Consequently the 2015 wheat crop is coming in with mixed reviews. Some areas are seeing higher than normal levels of ergot and Fusarium head blight (FHB). This may have implications for producers with regard to their planned crop rotation.

    Read More »

    Glyphosate for Pre-Harvest Drydown

    Late season rains this year resulted in late germinating weeds.  Herbicide options were not available to control these weeds because of the growth stage of the crops. To avoid problems with green material during harvest and to reduce the risk of increased weed issues in the future, many producers may consider applying a pre-harvest desiccant to wheat and pea crops.

    Read More »

    Smoke Impact on Crops

    Fires in Canada and Alaska have received a great amount of attention recently because of their impact on the northern plains. Pretty sunrises/sunsets have been the more attractive impact. The different issue has been reduced sunlight on certain days of the last few weeks, where the sunlight was largely blotted out. Several news articles have recently addressed the impact of the fires on air quality in South Dakota and surrounding states including some air quality alerts in other states. 

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    Report from the First West River Field School

    The West River Field School on June 30th in Rapid City was the first time such an event was held in the western part of the state. It was a one-day event attended by 41 participants with five sessions covered by speakers from SDSU and NRCS. The event was sponsored by The Wheat Commission of South Dakota and Farm Credit Services of America.

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    Volga Farm Summer Tour

    The annual Volga Farm Tour will be held on July 22, 2015 from 4:30 p.m. (CST) till dusk. The tour is located 1.5 miles south of Volga on Brookings County Road 5 on the east side of the road. There will be continuous tours running, and each will last about an hour. The day will include a meal provided by our sponsors: South Dakota Crop Improvement Association, South Dakota Wheat Commission and South Dakota Soybeans Research and Promotion council.

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    Wheat Diseases Update

    Stripe rust is continuing to develop on winter wheat and spring wheat. Several reports throughout the state indicate that this year is the worst we have seen for stripe rust on winter wheat in South Dakota. If the flag leaf is covered with stripe rust pustules, it may be too late to apply a fungicide as fungicides mainly provide protection against new fungal infections. A few scouted spring wheat fields also had stripe rust beginning to develop.

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    Farm Equipment, Safety on the Road, Everyone’s Role

    Even though fall harvest is a ways off, we still encounter farm equipment on the road, whether it is a tractor and baler, someone hauling feed between farms, or the impending corn silage harvest in about four to five weeks. The point is we all need to be vigilant as a producer or a motorist encountering farm equipment on the road.

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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.

    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.

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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.

    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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    Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus Management: Plan ahead before planting this fall

    Have you had a history of moderate wheat streak mosaic disease in your field? Do you plan on planting wheat into wheat stubble or wheat fallow? Have your neighbors had wheat streak mosaic disease outbreaks in the recent past? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to incorporate wheat streak mosaic control principles into your management plan before planting winter wheat this fall.

    Read More »

    Wheat Disease Implications for Crop Rotations

    The 2015 crop year provided South Dakota wheat growers with numerous challenges. The weather changed from one extreme to another. First it was dry and then it was wet with some areas experiencing extremely heavy rains and strong winds. Consequently the 2015 wheat crop is coming in with mixed reviews. Some areas are seeing higher than normal levels of ergot and Fusarium head blight (FHB). This may have implications for producers with regard to their planned crop rotation.

    Read More »

    Ergot Reported in Grain at Grain Elevators

    Ergot is showing up in South Dakota’s wheat crop this year. A fungal disease, ergot develops in the wheat head and can contaminate grain leading to rejection or dockage at the grain elevators. The fungal pathogen that causes ergot, Claviceps purpurea, survives in grassy weeds and in soil and infects wheat through the flower. Instead of a normal wheat grain, the grain is replaced by a horn-like purple black sclerotia.

    Read More »

    Glyphosate for Pre-Harvest Drydown

    Late season rains this year resulted in late germinating weeds.  Herbicide options were not available to control these weeds because of the growth stage of the crops. To avoid problems with green material during harvest and to reduce the risk of increased weed issues in the future, many producers may consider applying a pre-harvest desiccant to wheat and pea crops.

    Read More »

    White Heads in Wheat

    White or bleached heads are a common sight in wheat fields throughout South Dakota. There are two organisms that could be blamed for this kind of damage, an insect called wheat stem maggot (Meromyza americana) and a disease called Fusarium head blight/Scab caused by Fusarium fungus. While the damage they cause looks very similar from a distance, there are some easy clues that can differentiate between them.

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    Assess for Fusarium Head Blight (Scab) in Winter Wheat

    A number of winter wheat fields in central South Dakota were scouted last week. Fusarium head blight (scab) severity was at low to moderate levels in several fields. Very few fields had severe scab. The level of scab in a wheat field depends on whether flowering coincides with rainfall, the susceptibility of the cultivar planted, and whether a fungicide is applied at flowering. Winter wheat is at ripening in most fields and this is when scab symptoms are most obvious. Once wheat starts to senesce and dry up, it may be difficult to differentiate between scab infected and non-infected wheat heads.

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    Report from the First West River Field School

    The West River Field School on June 30th in Rapid City was the first time such an event was held in the western part of the state. It was a one-day event attended by 41 participants with five sessions covered by speakers from SDSU and NRCS. The event was sponsored by The Wheat Commission of South Dakota and Farm Credit Services of America.

    Read More »

    I-29 Soil Health and Cover Crop Field Tours

    SDSU Extension in cooperation with the SD No-Till Association, South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Millborn Seeds, Mustang/Coyote Seeds, USDA-NRCS, USDA-ARS, Southeast Research Farm, Northeast Research Farm and the newly formed SD Soil Health Coalition will be offering five soil health and cover crop tours in eastern South Dakota during September.

    Read More »

    Cover Crops: Species Selection

    Interest in cover crops in South Dakota is increasing. Farmers are growing cover crops as a monoculture or blend/s to improve soil quality and supplement forage needs. The frequently grown cover crops species in this region could belong to a broad group of plants such as warm or cool season grass, cool season broadleaf, brassica species, or legumes. One advantage of growing a blend over monoculture is it helps partition available resources to different plant species at different times rather than all plants requiring the same resource at the same time.

    Read More »

    Short-term Flooding: Impacts on soil properties

    Recent heavy rains have created small scale stagnant flooded soil. Nitrate-N leaching and denitrification are primary concerns for crop producers. However, other soil conditions are also affected. The rapid depletion of soil oxygen causes a shift in nitrogen cycle soil micro-organisms that lead to the denitrification processes.

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    SDSU Dakota Lakes Research Farm Soil Health Field Day: Lessons learned

    A soil health field day was held at the research farm near Pierre on July 14, 2015 hosted by the newly formed SD Soil Health Coalition, SD Grassland Coalition, SARE, SDSU Extension and Ag. Experiment Station, USDA-NRCS, SD No-Till Association and the SDSU Dakota Lakes Research Farm. Speakers at the field day focused on the importance of soil health and factors which can lead to improving and maintaining it.

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    Report from the First West River Field School

    The West River Field School on June 30th in Rapid City was the first time such an event was held in the western part of the state. It was a one-day event attended by 41 participants with five sessions covered by speakers from SDSU and NRCS. The event was sponsored by The Wheat Commission of South Dakota and Farm Credit Services of America.

    Read More »

    Intensive Precipitation Patterns Reveal Poor Soil Health

    Erosion (sheet, rill or gully) and soil surface sealing are visual examples that indicate poor soil health. The occurrence of these events are a result of soil with poor structure, low organic matter (carbon), un-protected soil surface, possibly little or no earthworm activity, and tillage.

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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.

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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.

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    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.

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