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Gale Filipek was planting some of the last of the soybeans on the Francis Hass farm near Raymond, S.D., (west of Watertown) on June 1, just before the farm picked up nine-tenths of an inch of rain. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service

Northeast SD farmers race to seed soybeans

RAYMOND, S.D. — Gale Filipek was seeding soybeans on the Francis Hass farm on June 1, dodging 1.5-acre muddy spots while fields only three miles away were too dry.

"We're pushing hard as we can to get it done," Filpek, 70, said. Seed was going in 1.5 to 2 inches deep because fields are dry, other than the mud holes. "Hopefully we get a shower of rain tonight."

Hass, reached by phone on June 4, said seeding was likely to be finished by June 9. Much of the farm picked up a tenth of an inch of rain on June 1.

Hass, 69, is a Clark County commissioner and sits on the Redfield Energy LLC board of managers. When he isn't doing that, he's raising wheat, corn, soybeans and alfalfa on about 4,500 acres, which is about a third of what he farmed at his peak five years ago.

Hass has been farming full time since he was a junior in high school. His father died when Hass was 12, so an uncle took over. When the uncle died, he and his mother, Alma, took over the farm when he was 16.

"I give her all the credit, really. She could have sold it," he says.

Hass says he's been cutting back some. He has three part-time employees, including Filipek, who's been with him for 20 years.

The area got plenty of rain last fall. Hass crews had to harvest corn around some water holes in the fields. The Hasses and others in the region went through a punishing calving season. Hass' calves started coming in early April. They had 30 inches of snow through the process, and he figures 5 percent more calves died than average.

"It was a terrible calving year," he says. "Everybody's about wore out, all over — especially if you've got livestock."

This year's alfalfa crop looks like a bright spot, Hass said, noting in the previous two years the region's crop was hit hard by spring freeze.

"I think last year it froze twice, so all you end up with is one crop, maybe two," he says. Even some of the pastures froze last year.

This year, the alfalfa prospects look better and the pastures look good. Hass strives to put up a year's worth of feed, but that hasn't been possible in the past two years. This year it might be.

"An inch (of rain) wouldn't hurt. If it comes easy," Hass said. "We're going to need it to for a second cutting of alfalfa. We're going to need it soon, but we're doing fine right now. "