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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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    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.

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    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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    Dakota Lakes Research Center Hosts Annual Field Day

    SDSU’s Dakota Lakes Research Farm will be hosting their Annual Summer Field Day on Thursday, June 25th beginning at 3 PM and running until dark. The Dakota Lakes Research Farm has been operating for 25 years with the mission to identify, research, and demonstrate methods of strengthening and stabilizing the agriculture economy. The research enterprise at the farm is operated by SDSU.

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    Stripe Rust Continues to Develop in Winter Wheat Fields

    Two winter wheat fields in Gregory county were found with severe stripe rust. Several fields scouted along highway 18 in Turner, Hutchinson, Douglas, Charles Mix, Gregory and Tripp were found with stripe rust at low severity. Severe stripe rust on winter wheat in Gregory county. Wheat is mostly between heading and flowering, a yield determinant growth stage. With the current wet weather conditions and more rain in the forecast, stripe rust may develop to reach severe levels.

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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.

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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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    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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    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 »

    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.

    Read More »

    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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    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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    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.

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    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.

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