South Dakota winter wheat rated 70 percent 'poor' - KOTA Territory News

South Dakota winter wheat rated 70 percent 'poor'

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports average snow depth across South Dakota is four inches.

You might not believe that here in KOTA Territory, and it sure isn't the case for local wheat farmers who depend on that snow.

Jim Madsen has been growing winter wheat for a while now.
 
"Since I was about 20 years old," he clarified. "About 40 years."
 
This year, he's not growing anything, but not by choice.
 
"This is probably about as bad as it's ever been," Madsen said. "This time of year you usually have a little more growth, usually have a little moisture. This year there's been no moisture."
 
And virtually no growth in any of his fields since he planted in September.
 
He's not alone: The USDA rates just 3 percent of South Dakota's winter wheat in good condition; 27 percent is in fair condition, and a whopping 70 percent is either poor or very poor.

As for snow cover, another key metric for winter wheat production, 61 percent of the state's producers are seeing poor snow levels, while 39 percent of the state has adequate cover.

In Madsen's fields, there was a little snow around the edges, but not nearly enough to have an impact.
 
"It's not good," he said. "All doom and gloom."
 
He's still holding out hope, but it's hard to stay positive this long after planting.
 
"I might have to replant spring wheat, but I don't know if that'll happen, either," said Madsen. "It's not very promising, basically."

On the upside, Madsen does have some leftover wheat from last year that he hopes to sell off around harvest time.

He's also got his fingers crossed the price of wheat will shoot up come spring, due to low supplies around the state.

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