A cornfield south of Marysville is looking healthy and full this year. Last year, farmers around the county experienced delayed planting or no planting at all due to heavy and constant rains. (Journal-Tribune photo by Michael Williamson)
Union County farmers are having an easier time getting crops in the ground this year compared to last year.
Wayne Dellinger, ag extension educator for Union County, said this planting season farmers have seen “variable” rainfall but overall, the county is in “decent shape” compared to last year’s season.
“Last year was a historic year for rain and some farmers didn’t even get plants in the ground,” Dellinger said. “This year we are seeing some replants so far but we’re pretty much getting everything in the ground.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Ohio had the wettest 12-month stretch on record last year between June of 2018 and May of 2019 with Columbus receiving upwards of 50 inches of rain by the end of May.
Typically, farmers in central Ohio are half way through corn planting by May.
In 2019, some farmers had not gotten to plant at all by that time.
Several farmers, especially in the northern part of the Union County, were late getting plants in the ground before the official start of summer in June due to rain and standing water in fields.
Others found the delay even pushing the late June date of prevented planting, defined as the failure to plant an insured crop by the final planting date designated in the insurance policy.
“We aren’t seeing that happening again at that level, but we were still seeing some delays in the northern part of the county,” Dellinger said. “Occasionally, I have seen some standing water in the north but not so much in the south.”
In the last week of June, fields Dellinger said things have actually gone the other way.
He said that many areas in both the north and south were looking “pretty dry.”
“These small random cells with this Florida weather can sure change things fast though,” Dellinger added.
He said some crops are doing better this year than they have done recently.
“I see 90 percent of hay is up and I’m even seeing some second cuttings,” he said. “We might even have an earlier wheat and barley harvest then we normally have.”
Dellinger added that many more crops are going in the ground this year, but in addition to the rain (or lack of rain), the season is not without other issues.
“We are seeing some compaction issues on the edges of the fields,” Dellinger said. “We really didn’t have the usual freeze, frost and thaw process this year which loosens the soil.”
Farmers rely on the process to act as a natural tilling mechanism on the soil ahead of getting in the fields with large equipment.
Compaction can make soil less able to absorb rainfall, which Dellinger said could account for some standing water.
The harder soil also causes other larger issues such as erosion and runoff.
“We’re never without problems. There is always something for farmers to contend with,” Dellinger said. “Just glad we are able to get plants in the ground this year and return to some kind of normal.”
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