Bon Homme County farmer Tanner Hento hoping for rain

Tanner Hento was pleased with what he saw recently looking across a soybean field out his farm office window. The beans, said Hento, look good, despite what the Avon, South Dakota farmer calls the roughest start he could imagine. They were in the ground by late April, just in time for the hundred-mile-per-hour-plus derecho that clipped off half the young plants, followed by a pounding three-inch rain resulting in emergence issues. Since then, it’s been hot and dry. “And despite all that, and despite not even one inch of rain within the last month, probably, the beans look pretty good,” said Hento. “I don’t think anybody would’ve guessed what they’ve been through for how they look at this point. We’re sitting ok on the beans, they are really holding their own, hoping that Mother Nature provides sooner than later for them.”

Hento’s tone darkens when asked about corn. He planted in textbook-ideal soil temperatures, avoided flooding, and the derecho came and went before the corn was vulnerable. Despite that, Hento, a Corteva Young Leader recipient, says his Bon Homme County corn crop looks poor.

“It’s really at a critical stage right now; we’re probably just going to start pollinating and silking here within the next five to ten days, and it’s to the point we need inches, not just quarter and half-inch rains, so the corn yields are probably going to be the worst that they ever have been since the 2012 drought, so the corn is really bringing up the rear.”

With the right management, Hento has in the past coaxed a farm average 225-bushel corn crop, but he doubts 150 is possible this year. His outlook for soybeans, currently 15 inches high and fully canopied, is much brighter. “Is 65 [bushels to the acre] on the table? Hmmm, it might not be, but if we get some rains in the next week and it starts humming, I think 60 is very much on the table,” said Hento, “so the beans still have a good portion of their story to be told, unlike the corn. And the alfalfa, pretty similar; if the rain starts, it can green up in a hurry.”

This is the tenth crop in Hento’s young career, and he concedes, it’s his worst. Just the same, he sees a silver lining. “I never didn’t appreciate the good years,” he said, “but it’s really going give me new appreciation for what it takes to raise a really, really good crop.”