WOOSTER, Ohio — Farmers in Ohio and Pennsylvania spent the last few days of spring catching up on crop planting and harvest of first-cutting hay.
Despite getting off to a good start in April, with higher-than-usual percentages of both corn and soybeans in the ground, the mid- to late-season planting saw wet conditions that rotted seeds, suffocated plants and prevented farmers in some areas from even entering the fields.
In western Ohio, seed salesman Fred Pond said the worst area appeared to be between Paulding and Van Wert counties, where rain was persistent and damage at times severe.
“It’s just been very persistent rain, it’s not been huge floods,” he said.
But it’s been persistent enough to keep things wet, and some ground saturated. He knows of one farmer who plants 1,100 acres, but has only been able to get 75 acres in the ground so far.
Bill Wallbrown of Deerfield Farms Service — a grain and seed company with locations in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, said farmers who planted early generally did better this year.
“April was a great month, but once we got to the first week of May, conditions were still good, but then it started raining, raining, raining,” he said.
Wallbrown predicted it could be another week or two before planting is done in the region, but is pleased with the improvement in weather, which is allowing farmers to plant.
In Putnam County, in northwest Ohio, Ohio State University Extension Educator Glen Arnold said a sample was recently completed showing about 12-14 percent of soybeans were yet to be planted — a percentage rapidly decreasing as more farmers returned to the fields.
He’s just hopeful they will receive plenty of rain come July and August, for the later beans to mature. And, he’s thankful the crops in his area were missed by the recent storms that brought deadly tornadoes and damaging winds just a few miles north.
“We’re not happy with our crops, but we didn’t have what they had,” he said.
In Ohio’s Ashland County, early beans are generally doing well, but not so with the rest.
Certified Crop Adviser Eric Borden, who works out of the Town & Country Co-op Loudonville office, said the lack of oxygen getting into the soil, combined with increased pests, has likely left a permanent mark.
“The beans are going to be thin,” he said. “If we can get them growing, hopefully, they’ll be able to bush out.”
According to the most recent data, the week ending June 20, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 87 percent of Ohio’s soybeans have been planted, compared to 100 percent last year, and for the five-year average. In Pennsylvania, 97 percent of soybeans have been planted, ahead of last year’s figure of 84 percent.
The latest crop report also said 10 percent of Ohio’s corn was either in “poor” or “very poor” condition — but 14 percent was rated “excellent.”
The quality of first-cutting hay is also reduced, due to the rain delay. Fifteen percent of hay crops are rated “poor” or “very poor.”