The near constant rains that have drowned out fields in the area calmed enough last week to allow some planting progress, but some are still concerned that fields may go empty.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Ohio corn was 50 percent completed as of Sunday, up from 33 percent the week before. However, it’s still only half of the five-year average of 96 percent planted.
Soybean planting is in a similar rut, with only 32 percent planted of a five-year average of 89 percent. Last week, only 18 percent of soybeans had been planted.
Only three days were suitable for fieldwork last week.
“Saturday, there was a brief window where people were able to get in the field and work a little bit,” said Stephanie Karhoff, agriculture and natural resources educator for the Williams County Ohio State University Extension Office. “Unfortunately, we got more rain (Monday) morning that kind of put a damper on that progress.”
For corn, the date for farmers to take prevented planting — meaning they take an insurance payment and won’t plant a crop — was last Wednesday and insurance coverage is declining daily for farmers still hoping to plant corn.
Some farmers, including many in Williams County, are looking to exchange their corn seeds for soybeans, said Stephanie Karhoff, agriculture and natural resources educator for the Williams County Ohio State University Extension Office.
That is something many farmers can do with relative ease, though it depends on the seed representative and company, she added.
“The important thing is to make sure you’re looking for high soybean seed quality,” Karhoff said. “Growers really need to make sure they’re getting higher quality seed.”
For those farmers who can plant soybeans within the next week or so, Karhoff said they are lucky in that they won’t need specialty seed hybrids.
“Up to mid-June, we can still use our normal, full maturity varieties,” she said. “It’s just a matter of manipulating other parts of planting as far as planting narrow spacing so plants can come up and close those rows a little quicker.”
Farmers planting in later June, Karhoff continued, will need to look to quicker maturity varieties.
If these are new varieties for a farmer, they need to speak with their representative to make sure the seeds are protected.
Karhoff said weather projections for June include a cold, wet period with more precipitation though temperatures will get closer to average by the end of the month.
“It’s going to be a struggle to get soybeans in in June,” she said.
Producers have until June 20 to take the prevented planting option for soybean acres, and not everyone is optimistic farmers will plant on time.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation said this is the worst planting season since it started tracking planting progress in the 1970s.
It’s been especially bad in northwest Ohio, which is home to some of the most productive agriculture counties in the state.
“There are going to be a bunch of fields filled with weeds,” Ty Higgins, a farm bureau spokesman, told The Blade. “It’s going to change the entire landscape of the countryside of northwest Ohio.”
Kris Swartz, another northwest Ohio farmer, said many farmers won’t be able afford another year like this one.
“I’ve been farming 36 years and this is the first year I may not have an acre of corn,” Swartz said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report