The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


Area farmers took advantage of a few days of dry weather to get into their fields and try to salvage what has been a planting season overwhelmed by record-breaking rainfall.

In Sandusky County, about 10 percent of the corn crop and about 3 percent of the soybean crop had been planted prior to last week, said W. Todd Warner, executive director of the county’s Farm Service Agency office.

The spell of dry weather earlier this month, however, allowed growers in some areas of the county to plant as much as 80 percent of their corn acreage, Warner estimates.

“We had already sent in a flash report about the wet weather,” he said. “Thankfully last weekend there was a window, a pretty good opportunity for farmers to get their corn in.”

Growers in areas of the county with heavy clay soils that drain slowly – primarily in the northwest in Rice Township – lag other areas in planting, Warner added.

The Ohio Farm Service Agency has extended to July 15 the date for growers to file reports on their prevented planting acreage, defined by the agency as acreage that couldn’t be planted because of wet field conditions or other natural disaster.

Historically, soybeans have been the grain crop most widely planted in Sandusky County – 86,900 acres in 2009 – followed by corn, which was planted on about 62,300 acres that year. But cash receipts for corn were slightly more than $40 million for corn in 2008 and just under $32 million for soybeans.

Farmers in Ohio may lose almost $1 billion in income due to late planting of corn and soybeans this spring.

Barry Ward, production business management leader with Ohio State University Extension, said his rough figures indicate lower yields due to delayed planting could cost corn growers about $720 million and soybean growers about $260 million in gross income.

He said the estimates are based on the acres of each crop that farmers said in March they expected to plant, and on the lower yields expected because of the late planting.

Ward calls the estimates just “ballpark figures” but said he expects the losses to grow.

Despite the break in the rainfall, planting is still far behind average, Ward said, adding the true economic impact of the late planting won’t be known until fall.

“The weather from now until harvest will determine the impact on yield and on income,” he said. “Other factors that could change the outlook include how many farmers decide to take prevented planting crop insurance, and how many corn growers switch to soybeans.”

Jonathan Haines, executive director of the Wood County FSA office, said the dry weather “helped immensely” and most of the corn planting was completed.  Growers he’s talked to indicated they were going to switch unplanted acreage to soybeans.

The excessively wet weather, he said, is also causing problems for the winter wheat crop  where he’s noticed yellow patches in many fields – an indication of fungus. Wood County is historically the biggest producer of wheat in the state.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture hosted a season briefing on May 26 and the data painted a dismal picture.

Ted Lozier, chief of the Division of Soil and Water Resources of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said it had been the wettest April in more than 100 years of record-keeping. The previous record was 6.37 inches in 1893. This April saw 7.7 inches of rain.

“It is also the wettest February to April period on record,” he said.

James Ramey, director of the Ohio Field Office of the National Ag Statistics Service, pointed out that only 11 percent of the corn crop had been planted as of May 22 – when typically 80 percent is in the ground.

“Ohio has never been this far behind in the history of the weekly crop progress report, about 51 years,” he said.

For every day that planting is delayed in late May and early June, corn growers can anticipate a loss in yield of up to two bushels per acre, according to Greg LaBarge, agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension.

Last week was also critical for farmers because June 5 was the first day corn growers qualified for a prevented planting crop insurance payment.  While crop insurance doesn’t cover all losses, for some growers it may make sense financially to take the payment instead of risking lower yields or switching to soybeans.

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