Summer rains push crops to extremes

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SALEM, Ohio – While Mother Nature smiled upon some Ohio farmers this year, others have seen nothing but her wrath.

Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said late plantings, a wet summer and cooler-than-normal daytime temperatures are adding up to a disease-ridden, nonproductive soybean crop.

Beuerlein said if weather conditions don’t improve – meaning clear, sunny days and upper 80-degree temperatures – harvest might be below the state average by five to 10 bushels per acre.

Too much rain. Ohio has received 4 to 9 inches more rain than normal since April, throwing ideal growing conditions off kilter.

Northeast Ohio has seen the worst of these wet conditions, as the outlook is favorable for the state in general.

Tough times. Jim Comp of Comp Dairy in Ashtabula County, Ohio, said his 800-acre soybean crop has suffered some slug damage this year and he had to abandon 20 acres of it. Although he didn’t have to replant any soybeans, he did replant some corn.

“My guess would be on the corn, we’re probably OK if we don’t get an early frost,” he said.

He said some of his fields look good and some don’t. Comp said production at his farm will be off 20 percent this year.

Beuerlein said, “Soils have been wet and we’ve got root rot disease everywhere.” He also said the cloudy weather will affect grain development because plants need light to develop grain and no sunlight means no grain.

Looking good. Scott Barth of B&B Farms in Enon Valley, Pa., has a different outlook on this year’s crop. “We have the biggest year coming we’ve ever had,” he said.

Barth planted 2,100 acres of crops this year – half in Columbiana and Mahoning counties in Ohio and half in Lawrence and Beaver counties in Pennsylvania.

“It all looks pretty much the same,” he said. “They look great.”

All the crops on B&B Farms were in by May 8, so when the June rains came, the plants were ready to handle the weather. “We had one of the best planting seasons we’ve had,” Barth said. Most of the ground he plants is systematically tiled.

Barth is expecting the biggest year ever for his farm, a bit different from last year when the crops hit record lows.

Statistics. The results of a recent Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service survey mirror Barth’s optimism – Ohio’s major row crops and hay yields are all expected to be better than they were in 2002.

Ohio’s corn yields are forecast at 142 bushels per acre, up 54 bushels per acre from last year’s drought-stricken crop. If the forecast is correct, Ohio’s total production of 454.4 million bushels would be 80 percent more than what was produced in 2002.

Soybean yields are forecast at 42 bushels per acre, up 12 bushels per acre from 2002. If realized, this yield would result in a total production of 184 million bushels, up 30 percent from last year.

Nationally, forecasts for corn and soybeans are also up, with the possibility of the corn crop being the largest on record.

(Janelle Baltputnis welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 21, or by e-mail at janelleb@farmanddairy.com.)

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