Published September 1, 2003 | September 2003 issue
Honey producers in South Dakota may be looking at their third straight year of declining production, courtesy of a colder-than-average spring in 2003. Last year, South Dakota produced 11.5 million pounds of honey, making it the fourth largest producer in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, that amount is well below the 28.4 million pounds produced in the year 2000.
The cool spring means plants are not flowering as well as they would in hot weather, and many producers have been forced to bring in tankers of food to keep the bees alive.
One advantage of the drop in production has been strong honey prices. Last year, producers received $1.40 for a pound of honey, more than double the price during the production boom in 2000.
South Dakota apiarists shouldn't give up hope on 2003 yet. There's still a chance that the weather will improve, causing honey production to rebound and reversing the downward trend of the last two years.