LEMMON, S.D. – Within the rolling hills and long fields at the Hourigan farm on the southwestern North Dakota/northwestern South Dakota border, Bob and Lance have been busy burning down fields ahead of seeding wheat for spring 2020.

“We’ve planted the South Dakota hard red spring wheat (HRSW) varieties Surpass and Boost, and fields of each are coming up,” said Lance, who farms with his wife, Jaylea, and parents, Bob and Connie. “The emerging wheat looks good.”

Boost is a semi-dwarf variety with high protein, while Surpass is an early maturing semi-dwarf variety.

The weather has been ideal for planting the first week of May, although there have been windy days, as well.

“Planting conditions have been good so far and wheat planting is nearing the finish line,” Lance said.

While temperatures had been mostly warm and dry, a cold front came through on the May 9-10 weekend, bringing freezing temperatures in the 20s and flurries.

“With the cold temperatures the next few days, (had a low of 21 degrees on Sunday night (May 10), we are letting the planter sit for now, but hope to get back going by the middle of the week,” he said. 

There hasn’t been a lot of precipitation so far this spring.

“We could use a rain in our area – haven’t had much of any moisture this spring. Moisture is adequate right now, but we could definitely use a nice rain, before it starts drying out,” Lance said.

The drier weather has helped producers finish combining.

High precipitation in fall 2019 left many producers needing to harvest through the winter when fields were drier. Combines were still in the field cutting in spring 2020, even as planters began seeding other fields.

That was true for the Hourigan family, as well.

“We spent of a majority of the winter months and early spring finishing corn and sunflower harvest due to the high moisture of the crops last fall,” he said.

The Hourigans were pleased that the crop condition turned out well.

“This spring when we finished, we had really good yields, and the quality of both corn and sunflowers was good,” Lance added.

Lance and Bob are nearly finished seeding HRSW.

“We are nearly finished seeding wheat, and we still have corn, sunflowers, and soybeans to plant,” he said.

Lance and Bob are also watching the hay crop. Good quality hay is needed in the bitter cold winters for their Black Angus herd.

“This upcoming hard freeze has me a little concerned with how the hay crop will handle the cold temps, especially the alfalfa,” Lance said.

The family usually turns out their cow/calf pairs to pasture for summer grazing in the last couple of weeks in May, so they are getting ready to do that.

In the fall of the year, the Hourigans will sell their bred heifers.

“We breed Black Angus heifers to Black Angus bulls, synchronizing them for one day, and AI’ing them the first part of June,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Hourigans are watching the skies and waiting to get back out in the fields to finish seeding their spring crop.