S.D. Rain=Grain, Hay

  1. Dennis Hanson, co-owner with his son, Bryan, operate the Ft. Pierre (S.D.) Auction, Inc. They say rains have given some ranchers in his area some real help, but more will be needed. Photo taken June 13, 2017, at Ft. Pierre, S.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)


    PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota has had a rain revival — at least for awhile.

Dennis Hanson, co-owner with his son, Bryan, operate the Ft. Pierre (S.D.) Auction, Inc. Ranchers in his big trade zone received 1.5 inches of rain the weekend of June 11 and many in the region picked up 2 inches. Southwest areas in South Dakota got some pretty good rains, although they weren’t as dry as central South Dakota farmers and ranchers.

“It all helps,” Dennis says. “The country has been awful dry. Just a few weeks ago we thought we’d be okay. We thought it was coming, thought it was coming. But then it got hot and dry and it didn’t rain, didn’t rain.”

Ranchers brought in a lot of cattle because of drought conditions.” Dennis  severe droughts in 1976, covering a third of the state, and another more widespread in 2002.

“Our sale this Friday (June 16) will be not twice as big as normal but close — a lot of replacement heifers coming to town that wouldn’t come to town normally,” Dennis said. “They’re out of grass or trying to save their grass, keeping their cow herd. And we have a pair sale on Saturday that we normally wouldn’t have two sales this week; we’d just have one.”

“Will the moisture help a little? Yeah, it’ll help a little.” If ranchers who also farm get rain, they’ll plant some feed crops, which can help improve their prospects. Ranchers who harvest spring wheat or winter wheat that won’t make grain, they’ll be able to mix it with higher-quality feeds. One rancher met with the auction staff on June 13 to consider to hold on and wait for some rain. “In our country, all we need is rain. Rain cures a lot of ills in this business,”  Dennis says.