With over half of Fulton County wheat crops planted despite corn and soybeans still crowding fields, local farmers are hopeful the season will play out normally.
Due to prevented planting – failure to plant a crop by a designated date – caused last spring by persistent rain, nearly 70,000 acres of bare fields in the county usually covered with corn and soybeans allowed for timely wheat planting in late September, said Eric Richer, OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources.
Conversely, Fulton County farmers who managed to plant soybeans late last spring when corn planting was ultimately abandoned still have 95 percent of their crops in the fields. Upwards of three-fourths of the soybeans should have been harvested by mid-October.
“The beans are still in the field trying to mature,” Richer said. “The guys don’t have any acres to plant wheat.”
The harvests of what corn and soybeans did get planted last spring despite continual rain have been delayed three to four weeks, he said. While most soybeans should be collected, weather permitting, by Nov. 1, corn will likely be harvested heavily during Thanksgiving week, and some into December, Richer said.
Although he’s uncomfortable predicting their outlooks, Richer said weather conditions from mid-August to the end of September were ideal for the corn and soybeans. “Our temperature and moisture were pretty darn good. Our farmers were blessed,” he added. “Had those conditions not been as good, we would be looking at dismal crops.”
Still, Richer believes yields will be below average, if only based on the corn and soybean acreage rain prevented from being planted.
The success of the 10,000 to 20,000 acres of wheat planted annually in Fulton County between Sept. 22 and Oct. 10 will depend foremost on the level of fall precipitation and soil temperature.
“If we continue the 2019 trend of excessive rainfall, that’s going to be bad for the wheat crop next year,” Richer said. “Right now, I’m not really sure there’s an abnormal problem except for Mother Nature. Farmers wrestle regularly with Mother Nature, and 2019 was a big wrestling match.”
Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Association, said state wheat farmers are currently in a good place, despite weather issues.
“We still have time to plant wheat now, but most is getting done. And seed quality has been good,” he said.
Nicholson said the only good thing to come out of the forfeited spring planting is acres of bare fields ready for wheat.
In Fayette, Les Seiler managed to seed 135 acres with wheat by the end of September. But just days after he planted his fields were hammered by three to five inches of rain.
“That is just never good on a newly-seeded crop. If we get another inch or two of rain right now it’s going to take its toll,” he said. “It’s unprecedented for our area to get that type of rain.”
Despite some field ponding and flooding, Seiler isn’t ready to give in and replant. But if rain continues to be an issue he may have to re-brand the wheat next spring as a cover crop.
“The hope is that we still have good crops. I don’t want to give up yet on it,” he said. “We have to be optimistic.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.