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A patch of western wheatgrass with ergot fungus growing throughout.

Ergot in Western Wheatgrass and the Potential Effects for Winter Grazing

2019 has been a year fraught with challenges for ranchers across South Dakota. Abundant precipitation is usually a blessing, however, wet conditions coupled with a cool spring followed by warmer temperatures has caused another problem across the rangelands of South Dakota: ergot poisoning.

A color-coded precipitation probability map of the United States. The majority of South Dakota is predicted to have wetter than average precipitation, with the highest likelihood being in the southwest corner of the state. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.

May 2020 Climate Outlook

On April 16, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released their climate outlook for May and the coming three-month period of May through July. There is a lot of uncertainty in the temperature outlook for the next one-to-three months in the Northern Plains Region.

An alfalfa field with noticeable dead patches due to winter kill.

Dealing With Alfalfa Winter Kill

Winter kill and general stand loss of alfalfa has specifically been of concern in many parts of South Dakota the last two years. Most observed alfalfa winter kill is due to low, wet or flooded areas where plants were suffocated and died over the winter.

A patch of soil with kochia weeds growing throughout.

Temperature and Herbicide Performance

In South Dakota, the spring can come with a wide range of temperature fluctuations. This will affect the performance of burndown herbicides. Depending upon the target weed, type of herbicide and application rate, there will likely be decreased weed control in cooler temperatures.

A red sprayer in a green field with a cloudy sky in the background.

How to Stop Drift

The goals of applying any crop protection products include: increasing effectiveness, mitigating drift, and maximizing profits. We will focus on mitigating drift, even though all three interact with each other.

A white and gray, mold-like growth on an ear of sweet corn.

What's Bugging Your Garden? Smut on Sweet Corn

Smut is a fungal disease that can attack the leaves, stalks, tassels, silks and cobs. While many fungal diseases cause spots on the leaves or stems, smut is much more flamboyant.

Yellow and green leaf of oats. Yellowing color is a symptom of Barley yellow dwarf virus.

Barley Yellow Dwarf Developing in Oats

A few oat fields that were recently scouted were found to have barley yellow dwarf virus infected plants. The infected plants were few and scattered throughout the oat fields.

A field of flowering alfalfa.

Precautions for Grazing Weevil-Infested Alfalfa

Alfalfa weevil populations are high this year, creating challenges for producers. Questions have arisen on how to get some value out of the forage by grazing it rather than putting it up for hay.

A heavily tilled field showing signs of severe topsoil loss due to erosion. Next to it, there is a no-till field with no noticeable signs of erosion.

Multiple Rounds of Severe Weather Bring Heavy Rainfall, High Winds, and Soil Erosion

A combination of tillage, no residue, and lack of crop canopy can lead to severe erosion and topsoil loss in the face of extreme weather patterns in the spring. The most effective strategy for producers to adapt to these extreme events is to improve soil health.

Rows of empty white, plastic pesticide containers.

2020 Pesticide Container Recycling

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is again offering pesticide container recycling services across the state. The list of 2020 dates and locations is available now, with the first collection events on July 13 in Herreid and Selby, S.D.