Saturated fields from persistent rain have delayed corn and soybean planting in Fulton County, but farmers still have a bit more time to complete the job and raise a decent crop.
This month, 4.94 inches of rain has been reported at Toledo Express Airport. The City of Wauseon has received more than five inches of precipitation, according to Eric Richer, OSU Extension agriculture and natural resources educator. Only three recent days, April 30 to May 2, were generally good to get out in the fields, he said.
“They were the most productive days for the county from a planting perspective,” Richer said.
The constant, soaking rain has prevented most local field work. Some work has been completed, but a high percentage of county fields haven’t been planted.
Richer said corn and soybeans can be planted in 7-14 days, “but some of our most efficient producers can plant their entire crop in five to six days. After May 20, there’s a heightened sense of urgency.”
He said in an ideal year corn and soybeans have been planted by mid-May. In the best conditions, crops go in when the soil is dry with subsoil moisture and and at a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees.
OSU Extension research shows that farmers could lose over a bushel a day of corn when planting after May 15, and six-tenths of a bushel of soybeans per acre per day when planting after May 20. Still, Richer said, those statistics are based on the law of averages, so it’s hard to predict actual loss.
“Yield is still left up to Mother Nature and the good Lord,” he said. “If the weather clears up and cooperates, and growing conditions are good the rest of season, yields could be average or maybe a little better.”
Brad Reynolds, spokesperson for the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, said it’s the northern part of the state, particularly northwest Ohio, that is getting drenched. In central and southern Ohio planting of corn and soybeans is either completed or nearly so.
“Planting varies across Ohio based on the weather lines that pass through. Obviously, the further northwest you go, they’re a little behind,” he said.
But while northwest Ohio farmers would typically be in their fields by now, they still have time to plant, Reynolds said.
“They normally get a little bit later start because weather’s cooler” in that area of the state, he said. Due to the torrential rainfalls last spring, some farmers were forced to replant.
“We certainly hope it dries out up there so we can hit the fields soon,” Reynolds said.
Jared McClarren, a Wauseon corn and soybean farmer, said it’s ideal to start in the fields the last week of April and finish planting by about May 10. Because of the onslaught of rain this spring, McClarren has only about 10 to 15 percent of his crops in the ground. He said that’s partly due to his no-till method.
“We tend to wait for the soil to dry up,” he said.
He said some farmers in the county have completed about 70 percent of their planting but their fields resemble lakes from the downpours.
“Rains like this can hamper yield if the crop is stressed too much,” McClarren said. “If a crop is underwater too long it’s not going to work out.”
There is still time to plant and produce a good crop, so he hasn’t begun worrying too much. “But you can’t say you don’t worry a little bit at night,” he added.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.