Lance Hourigan

Lance Hourigan at the farm near Lemmon, S.D.

LEMMON, S.D. — Just a few days of seeding remain to finish planting Lance Hourigan’s favorite crop — sunflowers.

“We are trying to wrap up with sunflowers — had a few delays with welcome rain showers,” said Lance Hourigan, who farms with his dad on the northwest South Dakota/southwest North Dakota border near Lemmon, South Dakota. “Hopefully, we’ll be finished soon.”

Lance and Bob have been growing sunflowers for the last 25 years, so they know sunflowers and how to best raise them.

They plant sunflowers using singulation, which places each seed, one at a time, evenly down the rows. Without singulation, there can be skips or doubles in the row.

“We use our planter, which helps with singulation, but we also use our 1895 air drill,” he said. “We use only one seeding rank, so instead of 10-inch spacing between rows, it is on 20-inch spacing.”

This year, Bob and Lance are planting Xtend soybeans.

“We have been using that program the last few years to good success,” Lance said, adding he is “curious” with how recent court rulings will apply to chemical programs in the future.

A federal court recently vacated the EPA’s 2018 conditional registration of three dicamba herbicides for use in dicamba-tolerant crops.

Chemical programs are important to suppress weeds and to protect yield. Their farm deals mainly with kochia, Canadian thistle, and typical grasses.

“We have been planting soybeans for nearly 10 years now. When we started, we wanted to add another broadleaf crop into our no-till mix along with sunflowers, and we’ve found soybeans work well for us,” he said.

The Hourigans grow grain corn to take to Southwest Grain in Lemmon or Agtegra Co-op in McLaughlin, South Dakota.

“We do feed some of our harvested corn to our cattle and occasionally put up some silage,” Lance said.

On the farm, Lance and Bob get going as early in the morning as they can — depending on what else needs doing. There may be repairs and other chores to accomplish.

“Dad and I usually work a little past dark, unless there is a weather system moving in or if we are in a rush. If that’s the case, we might work later into the night,” Lance said.

While they finish seeding, they are going back and forth with spraying, as well. Lance was busy spraying the first part of June.

The guys carry their lunch with them in the tractor or truck as both their wives work during the day. Lance’s mom, Connie, works full-time at Dacotah Bank in Lemmon, a job she’s held for more than 30 years.

Lance’s wife, Jaylea, is a registered nurse at West River Health Services clinic in Hettinger.

Both Jaylea and Connie pitch in to help with farmwork on the weekends, or sometimes at night.

“They have more than full-time jobs,” he said.

Meanwhile, the farm has received needed rain showers to help the topsoil over the past couple of weeks.

“We had been abnormally dry this spring, but had a wet fall, so the crops had looked fine,” he said. “We got some much needed rain this last week and the crops look very good now.”