Farmers watch for rain damage

SALEM, Ohio – Saturated. Soaked. Wet.
These words have described many spring seasons and it looks like this one, at least recently, will be no exception.
The question is what it will mean to those corn sprouts and the seeds still hidden beneath the ground across Ohio.
In Ashtabula County, the corn shoots already show signs of stress, OSU Extension ag educator David Marrison said late last week from his office, where the rain continued to fall outside.
His bigger concern is the seed sitting in soggy soil.
As the weather forecast turns drier and sunnier, farmers need to be vigilant watching these fields, he said.
“You can’t do a windshield survey,” Marrison said. “Farmers need to get out in the fields and dig around and see how the beans and corn seeds are germinating.”
That’s about all many farmers will be able to do in their fields this week.
According to the USDA’s crop report for the week ending May 21, 65 percent of Ohio topsoil had a surplus of moisture. And just a half day that week was dry enough for fieldwork.
Too soon? Even with several inches of rain sitting in the gauge, thinking about replanting is premature, Marrison said.
“We just need to wait and see. We’ve seen this before,” he said. “This is nothing new for us.”
Carroll County ag educator Mike Hogan agrees.
Prior to this most recent rain marathon, much of the area was dry, he said.
That meant when those first few days of rain came, the soil was able to hold extra moisture. In addition, the weather was cool and wet, but at least there weren’t 1-inch downpours every day, Hogan said.
“We needed the rain, but not nine days of it,” he said. “We’re still in pretty good shape, though.”
An assessment. Should farmers start thinking about replanting, however, an expert at Purdue has help.
Worried that their decisions may be based on emotion rather than fact, corn specialist Bob Nielsen came up with a way for farmers to take a critical look at their operations.
It should be more than just “looking out the kitchen window at the damaged field every morning,” he said.
Instead, corn producers should be calculating their replant costs and potential yields.
Nielsen’s worksheet helps farmers do just that. Estimating Yield and Dollar Returns from Corn Replanting is available at www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/pubs/AY-264-W.pdf.
The calculations are based on a farmer’s cropping history, including original seeding rate and planting dates, yield estimates under “normal” conditions, the projected market price at the time of harvest and the expected replanting date and costs.
The worksheet then helps the grower “determine the damaged field’s current yield potential if left untouched, its replant yield potential, and the dollar returns, if any, from replanting the field,” Nielsen said.
Taking time to work through the information clarifies the economics of replanting and eliminates the emotions that often figure into the decision, he said.

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