News & Events

Harvest Is Time for Reflection, Planning

by: Nicole Tonak, Instructor

Fall has always been my favorite season! The beautiful array of colors: red, orange, yellow and brown. Here in the Dakotas, we not only enjoy the color changing of the leaves, but we are also blessed with some gorgeous sunrises and sunsets as the weather begins to cool and harvest season begins. What an exciting time. Harvest season is when your hard work begins to “pay it back” as combines roll through the fields. The excitement of who starts and/or finishes first, watching the yield monitors as you cut through each field, neighbors helping neighbors stay ahead of mother nature, and of course keeping close track of daily markets and basis levels.

I’m not sure 2023 will be a record-setting year. However, there have been significant rain events in the west, and the heat has pretty much affected us all. Overall, from what I have seen, South Dakota is sitting pretty good for the year we have had, but we will know more as we finalize this harvest season.

Traveling throughout eastern South Dakota the past few weeks, I am reminded of a couple things. Farming and ranching is a business, and you need to treat it as such. Now, I know many farmers and ranchers do not like to think about the financial side of their operations as they love working the land and tending to the livestock. However, looking long term at the operation is how “family farms” exist today, and what will keep them afloat for generations to come.

Interest rates are higher than they have been for a few years, while grain markets are lower than they have been in the past. As we finalize harvest and are thinking about grain in the elevator or buttoning up the bin, I encourage producers to consider a few questions:

  • Will the market pay you to store that grain to cover interest charges and your grain bin fee? (Even if the bin is paid off, there’s still a cost to store grain on the farm.)
  • What was the condition of the grain in the bin or bag, and how can that grain quality be maintained or improved?
  • What is the operation’s cash flow need for the next two, four and six months?
  • Have the numbers been run to assess the operation’s financial state going into the final quarter of the calendar year?

These are all questions that we at the S.D. Center for Farm/Ranch Management work together with producers to find the answers for their businesses. Help take some stress out of your operation and contact us at [email protected] or 605-995-7108 or visit for more information. We look forward to working with you!


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