Spring, summer, fall and winter on a soybean farm in South Dakota.

A Year in the Life of a Farmer

Most people know that fall is harvest time, and spring is time for planting, but do you know what farmers are up to the rest of the year? Hint: It’s not lounging on a tropical beach. Here’s a seasonal look at their annual calendar.

Young soybean plants on the Kontz family farm.Spring

South Dakota soybean farmers plant around 5 million acres of soybeans each spring. That’s equal to about 3.8 million football fields.

A soybean field being irrigated in the middle of summer.


Farmers spend this time of year managing weeds and pests in their fields and making sure their soybean plants have everything they need to grow. Just like tending to a garden, farmers constantly monitor their fields for outside competition from insects, diseases or weeds.

Harvesting soybeans at the Iverson farm in South Dakota.


More than 230 million bushels of soybeans are harvested each fall in South Dakota. That’s about 13.8 billion pounds of soybeans. Those soybeans are used in animal feed, biodiesel, food and bioproducts like plastics, crayons and other household items.

Soybeans peaking through snow on a South Dakota farm.


Most soybean farmers spend the winter planning for the next year and making repairs to their equipment. Raising animals is less seasonal, so South Dakota livestock farmers maintain their year-round animal care duties while keeping a special eye on their animals to ensure they stay warm and comfortable.