ABERDEEN, SD (AP)--Farmers in the Aberdeen area are working to reclaim land that has been lost to flooding.
Last fall, some farmers had gained some ground that had been covered with water, only to lose it this spring when heavy rains fell.
But after a recent heat wave, some of the land is beginning to re-emerge.
Todd VanderLinden, 32, who farms near Webster, said he was able to work ground last fall that had not been tilled since 1995. Flooding in the late 1990s had left the acres unusable until then.
His success did not last long, he said.
It tilled up nicely and would have grown if heavy spring rains had not covered the land he had regained, he said. Water also covered some new ground that had never been underwater, he said.
"This spring was the fullest I have ever seen the sloughs in all the years of flooding. There were patches on my alfalfa field that had never been under water before," he said.
Other farmers have suffered similar problems, said Lorne Tilberg, Marshall County Extension educator.
"Several guys north and west of Britton say they have more land they could not plant this year than any year since the flood cycle began," he said.
Doug Yexley, 23, who farms south of Webster, said he never knows how much land he will be able to farm.
He too regained some land last year that had been untillable since the 1990s.
"We could farm a lot of them for the first time last year. But they were nothing but water holes again this year," he said.
Spink County Extension educator Mark Rosenberg said many farmers have complained of the same.
"Last year I heard a lot of farmers comment on how they could finally go in straight lines down their fields instead of around potholes," he said. "But things kind of went backwards again this spring when we received all that rain."
A hot, dry spell in late June and the first part of July have helped dry up some of the water, but it is too late to get a 2001 crop from the land.
"Maybe you could plant same hay millet or forage sorghum, but there really is not a whole lot else you can do," said Gary Erickson, Brown County Extension educator. "And even in midsummer, it is risky to plant these acres highly susceptible to flooding. If we get another good rain, it could fill them up again," he said.
Sherm Cutler, who farms near Claremont, said he won't be planting any sorghum on the land he recovered during the heat wave.
"I tried that the last couple of years," he said. "It came up looking pretty good. Then a heavy rain came up and washed it all out."
He said he still has to work the land though.
"We are either going out and spraying weeds or tilling them under ground," he said.
Rosenberg said that is typical.
"There are a lot of tractors out working in these areas," he said. "But it is mostly to keep weeds down."
Though the wet spring took back some acres, farmers are grateful for the moisture.
"By and large we are in pretty good shape yet," Tilberg said. "But if it had not been for all that rain, we would not be."
Grasshoppers have also turned up in some soybean fields in northern Spink County and southern Brown County, Erickson said.
"Farmers in that area are spraying to control the hoppers. If they did not, all the soybean leaves would be completely gone by now," Erickson said. "There were more grasshoppers than I have ever seen. They were quite thick in some areas. Honest to God, the ground was just moving with them."
Farmers should check daily for grasshoppers, Erickson said.
"You have got to be scouting your fields," he said. "They can really sneak up on you in a hurry. It does not take very many days before they can have a guy completely cleaned out."