Ohio farmers have a majority of their crops planted following a record rainfall in the state, but now they must wait and see what yields they will produce.
Early farmer surveys show more than half of all corn and soybeans planted by Ohio farmers is expected to have some yield loss after record delays in planting, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
At the end of June, 72 percent of soybeans and 69 percent of corn planted were rated in very poor, poor or fair condition, according to surveys. Fair conditions represent a potential yield loss but the degree is unknown, poor conditions expect heavy losses and very poor conditions could result in complete or near whole crop failure.
Last year 83 percent of corn and 76 percent of soybeans were good or excellent, more than double the 31 percent of corn and 28 percent of soybeans that are expected to reach normal or better than average yields during this fall’s harvest.
“It’s really insult to injury when you look at that low percentage of crops that are in good to excellent for the whole state and it’s just because of the way that the crops were planted,” said Ty Higgins, spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Some of the crops never reached fit conditions for planting, but farmers attempted to mud them into the ground, Higgins said. Other times the conditions might have been right, but then rain poured on the Miami Valley again, covering crops and preventing oxygen from getting to the seeds to help them grow.
Lawmakers have been seeking extra funding for Ohio farmers impacted by heavy rains including Gov. Mike Dewine, who asked Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to issue a disaster designation to provide financial help to Ohio farmers.
Ohio’s U.S. House delegation also sent a letter to Perdue asking that he keep Ohio in mind when doling out $3 billion of disaster money and to increase prevent plant insurance payment rates from 55 percent to 90 percent.
Past May 15, corn crops begin losing an average bushel of corn per acre each day. Late soybean planting can also reduce yields by a bushel every three days, farmers previously told the Dayton Daily News.
Much of Ohio’s corn and soybean crop was planted in June, and some farmers were still working into this month to plant their soybeans.
“We had beans we wanted to get replanted if we didn’t get anymore rain, but we got rain Saturday night and we got rain Sunday night. So we’re done. We’re not going to plant anymore beans,” said Chad Mason, a farmer in Greene and Clinton counties.
Farmers across the Miami Valley are seeing the same issues. Where corn usually grows mostly in uniform, this year’s crop can range from nonexistent to good all in the same field depending on where water pooled, drowning out the crops, Mason said.
In Clark County, every field has something that isn’t adequate as well, said farmer Brian Harbage.
“I don’t know that there’s ever a perfect year, but it’s definitely a lot worse than others,” he said.
Corn prices have boosted a bit in the Miami Valley as the market expects a shortage, but advertised prices generally are for high quality corn and a percentage comes off as the quality drops, which could happen for many farmers who are already dealing with lower yields this year, Harbage said.
“We’ve got something to harvest at least,” Mason said of his fields that are mostly very poor to good with potential for one section of excellent, but he said that’s a stretch. “You go up above Lima into Michigan and there’s places where big areas aren’t planted.”
The USDA is planning to resurvey farmers to get a better indicator of how many acres actually weren’t planted in Ohio because current numbers showing 200,000 fewer corn acres and 300,000 fewer bean acres planted than last year seems too low to just about everyone, Higgins said.
The ground is so saturated still that farmers aren’t worried about long stretches of dry weather through July, when rain is typically most important for crop growth. Less than an inch every week would be helpful, though, said Greg McGlinch, a farmer in northern Darke County.
The biggest concern ahead is if the first frost comes before the crops can mature, he said.
Farmers who own livestock will also have to make tough decisions in the coming months on how to best handle their livestock with a shortage of crops for feed and poor conditions for winter wheat that would affect the quality of straw for bedding.
If farmers decide to cull much of their herds this year to cut costs, the price of meat may drop at grocery stores in the short term, Higgins said, but a year from now consumers would see hiked prices as farmers try to regrow herds.
“It’s a unique year and it’s one we’ll never forget, that’s for sure,” McGlinch said.
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