Planting season sloshes along slowly

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Fields, like this one, across Union County are not as full as usual seasons. The wet spring has made planting difficult for local farmers.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Michael Williamson)

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This farmer was photographed in a field off Route 736 near Kandel Road Friday.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)

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June has arrived but the month that marks the beginning of summer might have fields looking a little less green.

This spring, rain and severe weather have plagued Union County by creating flooding and oversaturating the sub-soil with rainwater, making planting season for local farmers a bit difficult.

“That’s all anybody is talking about,” said Wayne Dellinger, OSU agriculture and natural resources educator in the Union County extension office. “We should’ve had all our corn and soybeans in the ground by now.”

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 60% of corn has been planted so far this season compared to more than 90% this time last year and for the last five years.

Weather has been so bad that many farmers haven’t been able to get into the fields let alone yield successful crops.

“We actually just passed one of our first milestones,” Dellinger said. “June 5 was the prevent plant date for corn.”

If farmers don’t have their corn in the ground by this date, they can file a claim with their crop insurance agent and get back a percentage of the total.

“For corn, the number is 55% of the initial insurance guarantee,” Dellinger said. “Farmers can plant up to 20 days passed that prevent plant date which will be to June 25. Beyond the date, they lose 1% a day.”

“That date was a big decision day for farmers and unfortunately, a lot of them didn’t get their crops in,” Dellinger said.

He added that Union County often appears to have two different climate paths from north to south. Whatever conditions are in the north, it’s sometimes the opposite in the south.

This season, farmers in the southern half of the county have gotten more crops in than those in the northern half, Dellinger said.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Union County witnessed precipitation totals nearing 10 inches in the last month alone—much of it coming from the severe weather that hit during the month of May.

Much of county has seen upwards of 15-20 inches since the start of the year and many of the farmers are feeling the effects.

The wet weather leaves farmers with few options: they can decide not to plant, switch the acreage to a different crop or plant a cover crop.

“Unfortunately, we’re just at that place where time has kind of run out,” Dellinger said. “I know some farmers have gotten some work done earlier this week but even that is less than ideal conditions.”

He said even hay harvesting from the previous season is behind.  “We should be well under way but it’s just not the case,” he added. “There are some corn plants around the county that are at about eight inches tall. Most of that went in before the weather.”

Although the prevent plant date for corn has gone by, the prevent plant day for soybeans is June 20.

That would give farmers until the beginning of July.

“You have to be optimistic,” Dellinger said. “It’s just the way the weather works sometimes.”



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