XENIA — Wet and cold weather has kept most Ohio farmers out of their fields so far this planting season.
Ohio county extension agents across the state and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) both reported at the end of April that corn and soybean planting is anywhere from two weeks to a month behind “normal” for Ohio farmers.
Darke County Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Educator Sam Custer says farmers in his region are “just kind of sitting and waiting.”
“Our rainfall totals this year are about four and a half to five inches – last year we were about an inch and a half,” Custer said.
He said if the weather remains dry, “realistically we should be ready to go next week (the first week of May). We have one farmer I know of who has done some planting in the county. Everybody is sitting who normally would have started last week. If we start next week, we should be about two weeks behind.”
In Darke County, no one has done much field prep or spraying. “There really hasn’t been anything done yet. There is tillage yet to be done. Conventional tillage guys might be three to four weeks behind,” said Custer. He added that “of course” those first couple of days are not always smooth as farmers get equipment out of their barns.
Will they be finished by the end of May? “It all depends on mother nature. The National Weather Service is predicting a wet May, so that could throw a chink in it. We really need about two weeks of good weather. So it could be a bit difficult,” Custer cautioned.
In Fayette County, no one has had a chance to plant either corn or soybeans in April, according to OSU Extension Educator Ken Ford.
”To my knowledge, I haven’t heard of any corn or soybeans planted at this point, at least not in Fayette County. We have had some pockets of dry area where there has been a little bit of spraying and anhydrous, but that is all so far. I know of one farmer who has had 900 acres of anhydrous so far,” Ford said.
Ford pointed out that each year is different. “Last year we had a lot of acreage planted prior to April 27 and probably 60-80 percent of that was replanted (because of flooding last spring). We had a lot of corn replanted. Just about anything planted after last April 28 did fine,” he pointed out.
“At this point, I wouldn’t say we are completely behind. I know there are guys who get itchy when it is the end of April and not planted yet. With the size of equipment we have now, it won’t take long once they get started,” said Ford.
During the week ending April 15, for example, there were just 1.4 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio, according to Cheryl Turner, OSU Statistician with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
According to her report, confined livestock continued to be stressed during the last cold, wet week. Oats were planted at a slower pace compared to the 5-year planted progress average. No reports of corn or soybeans going in the ground as planted progress continued to fall behind recent years due to poor weather conditions.
In Allen County, Kelly Coble, OSU Extension, confirmed the report. “There was work in the fields for about one day. We had a farmer come in and tell us that he saw people working their fields just one day in May. Farmers have been saying they haven’t been able to dress their winter wheat. Last year we had a lot more planting done,” she said.
Jason Hedrick, OSU Extension, Putnam County, said that in his county, there is “a whole lot of inactivity. It has been wet, very wet. As soon as we see signs of things drying out, it rains again. I have not seen anything local being done so far. No movement at all. Everyone is kind of biting at the bit.”
When asked if there has been any planting so far in Greene County, Extension Educator Trevor Corboy said, “Not that I am aware of. No one has been able to plant anything in Greene County. There has been some equipment preparation done, but very little spraying. Also, with the soil temperature as low as it is, even if we did get dry weather, we would not have any seed emergence because of the temperatures.”
Corboy said in Greene County they are “fairly behind, corn especially that normally goes out in the late April early May time frame.” He added that they are a couple of weeks behind in planting in Greene County.
Now farmers in Ohio must wait to see what Mother Nature has in store for them this month, in May, and if their planting will be back on schedule for 2018.