Despite a waterlogged June that left fields saturated, Fulton County farmer Lawrence Onweller said his corn and soybean crops aren’t in as dire a condition as he might have predicted.
“For what they’ve been through, they actually look pretty decent,” he said.
If anything, they’re in better shape than those in the northwest Ohio counties of Paulding, Defiance, and Van Wert. “They’re way worse,” Onweller noted.
Following a day-long June 27 deluge, during which more than five inches of rain fell in areas of the county, Keith Truckor of Metamora suffered some damage to his 650 acres of corn and 700 acres of soybeans. It took 2 1/2 days for standing water to drain from his fields, and some plants were left underwater for a day. Still, he quickly saw signs of recovery.
But that wasn’t the end of the rain. Twice this growing season he’s had standing water in his fields for a period of three to five days.
With five weeks of growing time remaining, Truckor said his crop conditions in each field are so variable it’s too difficult to project a total yield. That’s a prediction he can usually make at this point in the season.
“We have some very poor crops, but we’ve got some excellent crops as well,” he said. “The earlier planted crops are faring much better than the crops planted later. They were able to withstand the heavy rains because they were bigger in size.”
What Truckor knows is that the majority of his fields have suffered rain damage, leading him to believe he’ll have below average yields.
“We’ll know more once we get into the fields in September and October. (But) we’re hurt,” he said.
Weather conditions over the next month will make the final determination. Truckor said if August produces an inch of rain per week “that will improve my outlook as far as my yield is concerned.”
Regardless of the damage, he said farmers in Fulton County are probably better off than others in northwest Ohio. “We got everything planted, and we’ve got pretty good stands,” he said.
Fulton County OSU Extension spokesperson Eric Richer said the county’s corn has recovered from heavy rains better than the soybeans, but the verdict for both crops is still out.
“It’s still hard to tell at this point. There are corn and soybeans that are really good, and then there are some on the opposite end of the spectrum,”he said.
Richer does think the corn crop will be a more average crop than was thought in June.
“I believe it has pollinated quite well. It’s not going to be a bumper crop by any means, but it’s recovered enough to maybe be a tick or two above average,” he said.
Soybeans have recovered from the rains, but not to the extent corn has, Richer said. “The soybean crop is what I call ‘up and down’ throughout the county. There are places where the crop is poor…and places where the crop is really, really good.”
In spite of a series of damaging rains, the outlook for corn appears to have become a little brighter. Ken Colombini, a spokesperson for the National Corn Growers Association, said overall the crop has held strong, with about 70 percent in good or excellent condition.
“That’s a pretty good indicator it’s going to remain that way unless something dramatic occurs,” he said.
About 13 1/2 billion bushels are expected to be produced nationwide, with a total supply of over 15 billion bushels that includes carryover from last season. September corn futures are at $3.68 per bushel.
In the matter of soybeans, it’s anyone’s guess, said Tom Fontana, a spokesperson for the Ohio Soybean Council. He said soaking June rains in some parts of the state set back the crop.
“Most farmers think it’s going to be an average soybean crop. But the soybean crop may bounce back,” Fontana said.
Southwest Ohio, which got less rain over the past two months, could fare better, he said. But in some areas the precipitation prevented soybeans from being planted at all. In Defiance County alone, 100,000 acres were not planted.
“It’s so localized. Farmers in the same county may see different results,” Fontana said.
Onweller said the persistent rain has caused the roots of his 800 acres of corn and 500 acres of soybeans to remain shallow. “They haven’t been able to grow three-four feet like normal,” he said.
The precipitation can be especially hard on soybeans. Too much water and the roots can suffocate.
But Onweller isn’t ready to concede defeat. If August brings ideal farming weather he’ll expect average crops, with only about 10 bushels of corn and about five bushels of soybeans lost.
“The August rain is what’s going to make the beans and fill out the corn,” he said.
A farmer for 45 years, Onweller said a wet weather cycle settles in every three to four years. “I don’t worry. It’s just what to expect,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.