SALEM, Ohio — And they’re off…
That’s what most farmers are saying after the months of nearly steady rain ended and they were able to head to the fields.
Many farmers are working long hours to get the seed in the ground with one eye on the row markers and one on the storm radar. And that’s in addition to chopping or baling first cutting hay, or topdressing crops.
Some sun, some rain
Statewide, Ohio farmers have planted 58 percent of their corn acres and 26 percent of soybeans, as of the week ending June 5. The five-year average is 99 percent for corn and 88 percent for soybeans.
Jennifer Coleman, a spokesperson for the Ohio Soybean Council, said members are reporting a little bit of everything, depending on where they live.
“It seems like it’s very regional at this point,” she said. “It really depends on what county you’re in and sometimes what side of the road you’re on.”
Speaking from the Urbana, Ohio, area, Seed Consultants Inc. Agronomist Bill Mullen said they were hoping to finish up with corn by the middle of the week of June 6.
As far as soybean progress, Mullen said he thinks it will be finished by the first of the week June 13, if the sunny weather pattern holds out in Ohio.
“I’m happy for what we got into the ground so far.”
But head to northwestern Ohio, and some of those farmers are not doing as well. On a trip to Tipton, Ohio, near the Michigan border, Mullen saw many farms that still had water in them as of June 4.
Jim Hopkins, who farms 150 acres of corn and beans in Ashland County, had all but 15 acres planted. That’s because some of his ground is low-lying and is still under water.
He still hopes to plant the flooded ground if the water level in the creek subsides in time. He expects yields to be down a little because of the late planting, but said the hot, dry weather the past week probably gave what’s planted a boost.
Clark County grain farmer Allen Armstrong started planting corn May 31, and was 90 percent finished in less than a week’s time, with nearly 2,000 acres of corn in the ground. His family ended up using a smaller, 12-row planter they had intended on using only for touch-up work. But the additional planter helped get things done all the sooner.
The Armstrongs planted through the night last week, and were fortunate for no major equipment failures.
“We were just one breakdown away from not being this far along,” Allen said.
At Niese Brothers Farms of Crawford County, the planting is usually done by the first week of May.
But, given the unusually wet spring, the family was happy to be 70 percent done with corn and 95 percent done with beans as of the first of June.
The Nieses were out in full force this past week and were hoping to have all planting done by June 5-6.
Making the switch
Rod McNeely, with W.I. Miller and Sons, Farmdale, Ohio, said their farm has finished corn planting and they’re working on soybeans.
He said some of the farmers he has talked to are making progress and are between 50 and 75 percent completed in planting.
However, he noted some farmers have made the decision to give up on planting corn and are instead switching to soybeans.
Bill Wallbrown, co-owner of Deerfield Farms Service, had much of the same assessment. He said the weather conditions have been very favorable for planting and farmers have made progress.
He expects most producers to be finished with corn planting this week and soybeans by next week.
And the recently planted corn also loved the ideal conditions.
“Seed we planted last week has corning popping through and the stands look good,” said Seed Consultants’ Mullen. “The combination of heat and humidity after it was planted is helping.”
He reported, however, some farmers have commented on a crusting issue impacting some corn planted around May 11. The corn is having difficulty climbing through the hard ground, the result of so much rain and now the heat. He said some farmers are repeating planting in those fields impacted.
Western Pennsylvania farmer Rob Yost said he finished planting June 6, but was one of those who had to do some replanting due to the wet conditions of earlier-planted corn ground.
Statewide, 21 percent of the corn planted in Ohio had emerged, as of the week ending June 5, compared to 9 percent the week before.
The wheat crop struggled, too, during the wet, wet spring, and is rated only as fair by many farmers because of the excessive moisture in April and May.
The current Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service crop report indicates that the state’s wheat growers say 44 percent is “good” but 35% is only rated “fair”, up 5% from the previous week.
Deerfield Farms’ Wallbrown said the good thing is that, while yields may be reduced, as of now, the wheat is disease free because the heat came at a critical stage in the crop development for their fields.
“The weather (since May 31) has been a real blessing for all of us,” Wallbrown said.
Bret Davis of Delaware, Ohio, got about 400 acres of corn in early, but was delayed planting the rest of his acreage until the past week.
The difference was the dry weather, and getting enough consecutive dry days to make things happen.
“If the Good Lord gives us good weather, we can do something,” he said. “If not, we’re pretty much (out of luck).”
His 500 acres of wheat are doing well, but required a lot of help along the way.
“We’re going to have a decent wheat crop, but I know we’ve sprayed the devil out of it,” he said.
Fungicide is the main spray farmers have applied recently, hoping to prevent issues with mold and disease.
“The weather we’ve had, this is a breeding ground for diseases,” he said.