Rain dampens S.D. hay season

YANKTON (AP) — Rain is hampering the South Dakota hay harvest.

Recent heavy rains have delayed some hay cuttings, endangering what once looked to be bumper yields. Avon area farmer Scott Van Gerpen said a lot of farmers are still waiting to get a first cutting in as the time approaches when a second cutting would normally be done.

"We've got standing water in spots that most generally you never see it," Van Gerpen said. "Five inches (of rain) over a three- or four-day period has got to be pretty rare."

Some farmers who have been able to get in the field and cut their hay haven't been able to bale it. Steve Sutera, an extension educator in Bon Homme County, said wet crops and damp ground beneath create perfect conditions for mold.

Gary and Amy Freeburg, owners of Freeburg Hay Farms near Gayville, said they were lucky to get their first cutting of hay finished in early June. They work on a 28-day rotation, using the weeks in between cuttings to plant corn and beans.

"Normally we will get four cuttings off all our fields, and because we started as early as we did, there's no reason we shouldn't get that crop," Gary Freeburg said. "For a lot of farmers who didn't get in there and get started, they might not get that last crop. They might only get two to three cuttings at the most."

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