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WOOSTER, Ohio — The continued pattern of rain and overcast skies is affecting nearly all Ohio and western Pennsylvania’s farmers and farm-related businesses.
According to the National Weather Service in Cleveland, January through the first half of May saw 150-200 percent more rain than usual. Columbiana and surrounding counties are 8-10 inches above normal.
On Thursday, May 12, Farm and Dairy reporter Chris Kick and a job shadow student, Katie Fisher, from the Agricultural Technical Institute spent some time at the Kidron Auction in Ohio’s Wayne County, talking with conventional crop and livestock farmers, as well as people whose jobs are farm-related, like produce growers and equipment venders, and livestock haulers.
Across the board, the weather is hurting the industry and just about anything that has to be done outdoors.
Ronald Bair and his son, Jeff, brought a truckload of hay from their Carroll County farm. Their county usually is a bit behind other parts of the state — even in an ordinary year — they said, because the land is low-lying. But things are even more delayed this year.
The Bairs’ biggest focus is selling hay, and they count themselves fortunate to not be planting this spring. They have their hands full just keeping the hay dry.
“We’ve had to tarp our loads a lot more,” Jeff said.
Jonas Miller, an auction worker who helps with early-morning duties, said when he farmed, he preferred to plant oats the first week of April, and corn the first week of May.
“This is an exceptional year,” he said, admitting his strategy wouldn’t work now.
He helps farmers at the auction each Thursday, but said he’s glad that his current profession — an Amish tour guide — is less dependent on the weather.
Fruits and vegetables
Produce growers are reporting delays of a couple weeks to a month or more.
Roger Prater of Roger’s Produce is a longtime vender at the auction. Although he doesn’t grow the produce himself, he’s hearing of significant setbacks by those who do. Only select regions have what he needs, and the price to buy it is going up.
“The weather has a big bearing on everything,” said Prater, estimating he’s paying almost double for some of his goods.
The rain also determines how big a crowd comes to buy produce, and the many other things for sale.
Lately, business has been reduced as much as 30 percent because of the rain, they figure. If it rains in the morning, they say it’s a good sign sales will be down all day.
Bruce Seibert, of Wooster, sells farm and garden tools and replacement handles. He’s suffering a bigger loss from the bad economy and the price of gas, than the bad weather.
“We’re not seeing the people from long distances because of the fuel prices,” he said.
The forecast for Ohio and western Pa. shows some signs of hope toward the weekend. But as we enter the last half of May, some farmers are beginning to wonder if it will be too late.
Reporter Kristy Foster talked with Pennsylvania grain farmer Rob Yost, who thinks the extended rain period will mean less corn in his western Pa. region.
“I’m thinking some corn fields will not get planted. The condition of what is planted is scary to think about at this point (with 3-inch downpours of rain),” he said.
Yost said he is changing his plans and deciding to plant more soybeans.
“I’m gearing up to plant more soybeans. It seems like the wise thought of the day,” Yost said.
Crop report: Progress made, but not enough
SALEM, Ohio — With less than two-and-a-half days suitable for fieldwork last week in Ohio, the state still is well behind with spring planting.
Pennsylvania, meanwhile, enjoyed five suitable days, but is still behind.
Ohio has only 7 percent of its corn planted, 76 percent behind last year and 63 percent behind the five-year average, according to the latest National Agricultural Statistics Service report, released Monday afternoon. The report is for the week ending Sunday, May 15.
The Pennsylvania report shows 34 percent of corn is planted, compared to 68 percent last year, and the five-year average of 61 percent.
Slow to emerge
Corn emerged in Ohio was 1 percent, compared to 57 percent last year and 39 percent for the five-year average.
Soybeans in Ohio were in similar shape, with only 3 percent planted, compared to 44 percent for both last year and the five-year average.
Pa. soybeans are 15 percent planted, compared to last year’s 32 percent, and the five-year average of 24 percent.
Winter wheat in Ohio was 88 percent jointed, which was 3 percent behind last year and 4 percent behind the five-year average. One percent of winter wheat was headed, 15 percent behind last year and 10 percent behind the five-year average.
In Pa., wheat is 34 percent headed, behind the five-year average of 40 percent.
Thirty-five percent of Ohio oats were planted, compared to 95 percent last year and 96 percent for the five-year average. Oats emerged were 13 percent, 71 percent behind last year and 68 percent behind the five-year average.
Pa. oats are 21 percent emerged, compared to the average of 70 percent.
The first cutting of alfalfa hay in Ohio stood at 2 percent complete, compared to 9 percent last year and the five-year average of 2 percent.
First cutting of Pa. alfalfa is 20 percent complete, slightly ahead of the 18 percent average.
Top soil ratings in Ohio were 32 percent adequate, and 68 percent surplus.