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Rainy spring has dampened many Ohio farmers' corn, soybean planting plans

Special to the Legal News

Published: May 18, 2017

Spring around Ohio so far has been, well, quite springlike.

The only constant in the weather has been change. There were stretches of mild weather in April followed by on-and-off stretches of wet, damp weather since.

In fact, there's been quite a bit of rain recently.

So far this month central Ohio has received 1.98 inches of rain, which is 60 percent more than normal, according to the National Weather Service.

Since March 1 the region has received 9.96 inches of rain, two inches more than the typical 7.66 inches.

All that rain have left some Ohio farmers high and dry, forcing them to reorder more corn or soybean seeds or take measures to assist their already planted seeds.

The western portion of the state particularly has been hit hard by rains.

In counties such as Auglaize, Darke, Miami, Mercer and Shelby, the amount of rain was three times more than usual, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The region received three to four inches of rain between May 5 and May 6.

Since the beginning of May, five to six inches have fallen there, which is about an inch higher than the typical total rainfall for that area for the entire month of May, Wilson said.

"It was like every field had a river running through it," said Sam Custer, describing field conditions on May 5 in Darke County. "Everywhere was full of water."

The rains in some instances washed away newly planted seeds along with soil and nutrients, said Custer, an OSU Extension educator in the county.

Wilson said it's not that unusual to see heavy rainfall during the spring.

"But, certainly the timing of this deluge is unfortunate, and the impacts may not be fully understood until the end of the growing season," he said.

Darke County has the highest number of corn and soybean acres in the state and by April 28 nearly all the corn and almost half the soybean acres in the county had been planted, Custer said.

But Custer says farmer should be patient.

"If we can get the crops replanted that need to be and just watch the crops come out of this wet and cold, the farmers will be all right, and they'll see the possibility of a very good crop," Custer said.

Across Ohio, as of May 7, 46 percent of the state's corn had been planted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That compares to 30 percent that had been planted by the same time last year and the five-year average for that time period of 38 percent.

Soybean planting is ahead of last year's planting. Sixteen percent of soybeans had been planted as of May 7, according to the agency. That compares to 8 percent that had been planted by the same time last year and 14 percent, the five-year average for that period.

"Growers are concerned that there may be need for significant replanting of corn fields due to the cold and wet conditions," says Cheryl Turner, Ohio state statistician with the agency.

Researchers say soil that is flooded more than 48 hours becomes depleted of oxygen and without oxygen, a plant cannot take up nutrients from the soil or extend its roots.

"You may not have flooding on your field, but if you have saturated soils, it can be just as bad as having flooding," said Peter Thomison, an OSU Extension agronomist.

Once the growing point of the corn plant extends over the water level, the chance of the plant's survival is significantly higher.

Still, plants that survive flooding are more likely to have roots that don't develop fully, leaving the plants subject to more injury during a dry summer when long roots are needed to access the water lower down in the soil, Thomison said.

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