Concern growing for adequate 2021 South Dakota hay production


Concern growing for adequate 2021 South Dakota hay production

Photo: South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association

For all the things 2019 wasn’t, it was a good year for hay production in South Dakota, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. South Dakota’s 2020 hay production was down because of lower yield and fewer acres. The state’s hay production was 5.365 million tons, compared to slightly more than seven million the year before.

Western South Dakota cattleman Eric Jennings tells Brownfield 2020 hay production was better in the eastern part of the state than in the west.

“So if you get down there in the southwest and the northwest corners of the state there was virtually no hay put up,” Jennings told Brownfield Ag News on a Zoom call. “You get through the Black Hills and on east, from what I’ve been hearing, [it was] about half to three-fourths normal; some of the areas down in the southcentral [area], I think, were ok, but for the most part we were just too darn dry to grow much grass.”

There’s plenty of hay left over for Jennings and other West River ranchers because of high production in 2018 and 2019.

“Pretty much everybody has an exceptional amount of carryover hay,” said Jennings. “I had an old guy tell me one time that ‘The problem with having a lot of carryover hay is that you always end up using it.’ And this is going to be one of those years where we’re going to be tapping in and using some of the carryover hay.”

The 2020 yield per acre in South Dakota was 1.76 tons, compared to 2.09 tons in 2019. There were also 300,000 fewer acres of hay harvested this past year.

Jennings, the president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, is concerned about the paucity of soil moisture this winter, confirmed during a day of setting wooden posts for fencing before the ground froze.

“When you lifted the auger up out of the ground when digging a post hole, it was hard to keep the dirt on the flighting; it would want to sift off, and if you did get it out of the post hole and it landed on the ground, it was just a cloud of dust,” he said. “There’s just really no subsoil moisture at all.”

Brownfield Commodity Market Reporter John Perkins contributed to this article.

AUDIO: Eric Jennings