Area crops: Slow but steady progress

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SALEM, Ohio – Sunshine and warm temperatures early last week made a slight impact on ground moisture but stopped short of any noticeable help for farmers still struggling to get spring crops planted.

Reports from Ohio and Pennsylvania State University Extension personnel across the region painted a picture of farmers who continue to work long days in an attempt to beat rain showers to the fields but are making slow progress.

Ohio crop status. Chris Zoller, extension agent in Tuscarawas County, said that progress reports for the county vary greatly.

“Some guys are a good way into planting corn, but I heard that in some places someone just got their first three acres in,” the first few days of June he said, estimating 80 percent of the crop has been planted as of June 6.

An estimated 50 percent of soybeans have been planted, and slug problems have been documented.

Information gathered by Zoller shows that fields haven’t been changed from corn to soybeans yet, but “replanting and changes are quite possible,” especially if rain persists. Some hay fields were mowed around the first of the month and were rained on a few times, he said, and some haylage has been wrapped.

“The entire county has been wet all spring. Last year we were really dry. We’re not as far along as we’d like to be and are trying to catch up. All we can do is try to get the crops in and hope for rain later when we need it,” Zoller said.

Geauga fields. Farther north, in Geauga County, extension program assistant Les Ober told of similar conditions. He estimates 80 percent of corn normally put in has been planted and 60 percent of soybeans are done.

“There is a lot of concern about the wetness and possible slug damage. There’s still a big question mark as far as aphids go,” he said, noting the county was hard-hit with 20 percent to 40 percent yield losses from an infestation last year.

On the corn side, Ober said some early corn planted around May 5 is “mostly spotty.”

“Looking at it from general observation, the early corn isn’t much further ahead than what was planted May 20-24.”

Roughly 30 percent of oats acreage is in and “in the best areas is good to really poor,” he said. “A lot of guys didn’t even bother putting any in. The Amish put in just enough to get their horses by.”

Even with wet fields, there has been a good start on alfalfa for haylage, he said.

“Nobody could plant so they got into the drier [hay] fields. They felt like they had to do something,” he said, noting that no dry hay has been made yet due to the high humidity.

In the northern part of the county, near Thompson, Ober didn’t see many fields left unplanted, a fact that he credits to the hill advantage and random tiling.

“You can tell that they went around wet spots though,” he said.

More reports. A reader in Noble County reported that he received 3 inches of rain June 6. While the area doesn’t have a lot crops other than corn, the area is bigger hay country and hardly anyone had first cutting off. The bottom fields in his part of the county were under water with creeks overflowing from the hard rain.

Other Farm and Dairy readers said farmers are replanting soybeans in eastern Columbiana County, and fields look worse in western Ohio than they do locally.

Producers in western Ohio finished the bulk of soybean planting over the weekend of June 7-9, according to Chris Gibbs, executive director of the Mercer County, Ohio, Farm Service Agency office.

The dry weekend found farmers making hay “furiously” and filling silos with late and mature hay and silage. Gibbs estimated the county was three weeks behind schedule in making hay and planting.

“Right now things look fair to good for the difficult spring we’ve had,” he said, noting producers are keeping a watchful eye on soybean acreage as they wait for emergence.

Gibbs also noted reports of soil crusting, particularly in soybeans, but has yet to hear of problems with insects.

“We’re off to a slow start and can only hope that things get better,” he said.

Keystone report. Planting is behind in western Pennsylvania as well, but progress has been made since the first of June.

Tom Zundel, extension agent for Mercer and Venango counties in Pennsylvania, estimates that 75 percent of corn and 50 percent of soybeans were planted in the two counties as of June 6.

“Most grain people are still planting when they can. The corn that was put in early is about three or four inches tall and you can finally see rows,” Zundel said. “I think we’ll still make knee high by the Fourth of July.”

Drives across the counties show that wheat is in head and barley is beginning to turn yellow. Zundel also said he thinks all planned oats acreage is in and up, though it appears to need nitrogen. Hay has been started in the county and a few fields were completely baled around June 1, he said.

The two counties have had “pretty steady rains,” though reports from some parts near the state line showed up to 10 days without rain.

“It’s almost like July weather – humid days and afternoon rains. Puddles started around the first of the month are filling again” after severe thunderstorms June 6, he said.

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A quick glance at state crop progress data

SALEM, Ohio – For the week ending June 9, Ohio data showed that the average temperature was 67.5 degrees, 0.9 degrees above normal. Growing degree days were 11 points below normal.

Precipitation averaged 1.81 inches, 0.9 inches above normal. Northeastern Ohio weather summaries show nearly 111/2 inches of rain since the beginning of April, 2.79 inches above normal.

Southwestern and south central Ohio counties have received between 12.8 and 15.6 inches of rain in the same time period, putting them 4-5 inches above normal.

Statewide, reporters rated 3.1 days suitable for fieldwork last week. Topsoil moisture was rated at 38 percent adequate and 62 percent surplus.

Crop data. Thanks to dry conditions during the first part of last week, many producers have given up on the idea of planting any additional corn and have turned their attention to planting soybeans, according to USDA reports.

Nearly one-third of the state’s soybeans acreage was planted last week, bringing the total to 69 percent. Across the state, 39 percent of the crop has emerged, compared to 84 percent at this time last year.

In corn fields, 89 percent of the intended corn acreage had been planted with 65 percent emerged. Ninety-seven percent of the winter wheat acreage has headed with 11 percent turning color. Ninety-seven percent of the state’s oats has emerged with 18 percent headed.

The total alfalfa hay harvested was upped to 35 percent, 10 days behind the five-year average. Approximately 24 percent of all other hay has been harvested.

By the numbers. Statistics for Pennsylvania indicate 11.76 inches of rain in Mercer and 12.62 inches in Springboro since April 1, more than three and five inches above normal, respectively.

Areas of north central Pennsylvania near Laporte and Kane have been inundated with more than 6 inches of precipitation above normal.

Across the state, 89 percent of the intended corn acreage had been planted with 76 percent emerged; 74 percent of soybeans planted with 55 percent emerged.

As of last week, 98 percent of the state’s wheat acreage was headed and 26 percent was yellow, 13 percent above the five-year average. Ninety-two percent of the oat crop had emerged, just below the average.

About 57 percent of the first cutting alfalfa hay had been put up, just 7 percent less than the average but in line with last year’s figures. Thirty percent of first cutting timothy hay was complete.

(You can contact Andrea Myers at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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