Farmers patient over planting delays

By David J. Coehrs -

A break this week in the seemingly endless pattern of rain has Fulton County farmers anxious to finally plant their corn and soybeans.

Lawrence Onweller plants 800 acres of corn and 500 acres of soybeans outside of Delta. He said weather has caused late planting the past four seasons.

“All of our equipment’s been sitting for a month now, waiting to go,” he said. “It isn’t going to do any good to worry (about the rain). When it’s time, we’ll get going.”

While farmers would prefer to have crops planted by mid-May, Onweller needs just four days to plant his entire acreage of corn. The problem, he said, can be finding suitable times for planting in the midst of constant rain.

“You can plant it all in four days but it can take a month and a half to get those four days,” he said.

Planting late results in a later harvest and can affect the yield, “but that can be made up with weather,” Onweller said. “It all depends on July and August weather.”

It’s not just northwest Ohio feeling the wrath of persistent rain, said Tadd Nicholson executive director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Association.

“We are going through sort of a statewide delay in planting,” he said. “Everywhere in the state is in difficult shape.”

And though farmers are starting to become antsy to plant, “I think they are also being relatively patient on this,” Nicholson said. “We have faith we’ll have a window where we can get into the ground.”

Planting usually begins at the start of May, sometimes at the end of April if conditions are right. Nicholson said it’s when uncooperative weather pushes the starting date into June that farmers can become concerned.

He said at that point farmers may decide to switch from corn to soybeans, which have a later planting date. For now, however, a window to plant corn is still probable, and planting can be done quickly.

“With the technology today, it’s amazing how fast we can get it into the ground,” Nicholson said. “It’s so rapid. It will be hard and fast planting when we do get that window.”

The only real consequence to late corn planting is the current weed growth in fields, but that can be readily fixed, he said. Late planting shouldn’t significantly affect the overall growing season.

“We could still have a good growing season with good weather. We’re still optimistic, ” Nicholson said.

Ohio Soybean Association Executive Director Kirk Merritt said most of the crop is traditionally planted within June, although sometimes planting extends to July.

Farmers can plant soybeans well into June and still have a good crop,” he said. “The real key is the weather we get after they’re planted, especially in August.”

If the rainy weather continues into June, soybean farmers will have concerns, Merritt said, adding, “If the farmers can get to planting pretty soon, it will be fine.”

But he added that soybeans generally tolerate wet conditions better than corn.

“They’re a pretty resilient crop,” Merritt said. “Once it starts to grow and mature, it can withstand some pretty severe conditions and still yield pretty well.”

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.