Rain On The Plains

Inside Dakota Ag

It's never so dark on the farm as just before dawn and it's never so dry in a drought as just before a good rain.

Published on: July 25, 2012

I went to a drought meeting in Watertown, S.D., the other day and it rained.

Which is a good thing to know -- it is going to rain again.

A couple others things that I learned by making the trip to the meeting, which was conducted statewide by South Dakota State University Extension Service, were:

1) Being able to estimate yields accurately will be key to making good decisions about how to manage crops the rest of the season. Harvesting low-yielding corn for grain may be more profitable than harvesting corn for silage, given the high price of corn.

2) Nitrates and prussic are big risks. Test before you bale or chop drought stressed crops or alternative forages and test again before for feed them.

3) There are lots of things in pastures that can poison livestock. Sudden algae blooms can turn contaminate stock dams, creeks and lakes. Animals usually avoid poisonous plants when they have plenty of other grass to eat. But in a drought, they may try them.

Barry Dunn, dean of the SDSU College of Agriculture, added a dose a quiet confidence to the meeting. The former Mission, S.D., rancher said he had been through four droughts before.

"We got through those and we’ll figure out how to get through this one, too,” he said.

It wouldn’t hurt to hold a drought meeting. It might rain.