Deon Entringer dumps his grain cart full of beans into the Entringer Farms semi-truck from their field on the southeast corner of the County Highway 77 and SD Highway 32 intersection. The Entringers grow around 1,500 acres of beans during the year.
By Billy Stitz
It’s a given every year in Moody County and in South Dakota in general, that you will see farmers out in their fields combining their beans and corn during the fall months. What’s unusual about this year, is to see them doing it in the beginning of September.
Due to an incredibly dry summer, some Moody County farmers have been able to get a head start on the yearly workload. There are some pros and some cons of the situation, but it depends on the farmer and on their location.
For one rural Colman farm team, harvest season usually starts when the calendar turns its page to October and about 99 percent of the time starts with beans.
2012 has brought a different schedule.
The Entringers, who live north of Colman, hopped on their combines and started harvesting corn, yes corn, on Friday, September 14th, over 30 days sooner than the family heads to the field on a typical year and it was not because they planted their crop early either. This spring, some farmers jumped the gun on their regular planting date because of how nice the winter months were, but this family saw no reason to do so. They planted around the 12th of April just like last year.
About 300 acres into their harvesting, the family switched gears to a more familiar late September crop in beans. It was a good head start, one that may see the family finish combining a whole month sooner than usual.
“Our goal is to usually be done by Thanksgiving, so that we can sit down and have a good meal and not have to worry about work. This year we hope to be done by the first of November,” Pete Entringer, long time Colman farmer said while steering his combine through the rows of beans - plenty of time to prepare a good Thanksgiving Day meal.
The consensus of most people around the country, with the drought being how it has been, is that most farmers would be struggling through the harvest season. As far as this family is concerned, it will be much of the same as usual. It is not that farmers haven’t lost some of their crop compared to years past, but with the prices being as high as they are for the two crops, the lack of rain has kind of been a wash.
In 2011 the average price per bushel of beans in South Dakota was $11.40, this year, an amazing $16. The price hike doesn’t just work for beans - corn has seen an impressive increase as well. Last year the average was $6.05 and the 2012 price has jumped up to just under $7.50 a bushel.
It would seem that a lack of product compared to years past is offset by the dramatic increase in the amount companies are willing to pay for the product you do have.
As for insurance – it would seem as though some farmers would have to file, being as the weather has been so bizarre. However, a lot of farmers are squeaking by their minimum bushel total, including the Entringers, who are insured for 30 bushels an acre for beans and are seeing numbers around 40-50 bushels. It also goes for corn, they are insured for as low as 130 bushels/acre and although the numbers are down from last year’s average of 175, the family is still shooting out 140-150 bushels/acre.
It also depends on the area you are at. Some fields are just plain dryer than others, but on the flip side, some fields have better soil. The Colman farmers are sitting at a soil moisture reading of nine percent, a number that they wished was higher.
“That is way low for me. I would like to see that number up around 12 or 13%.”
You can see the difference just by crossing over Interstate 29. The Colman farmers’ 140-150 bushels per acre on their land they have combined so far seems low compared to one of their relatives who farms closer to Flandreau, who is bringing in close to 200 bu/ac.
Each farmer will have a different story and each one will have a different yield but it seems as if some, not all, farmers in Moody County are still going to have a fairly similar year to 2011 thanks to the rise in prices. But only time, and weather, will determine how the harvest season concludes in the remaining months.