Saturday, May 11, 2002

Heavy spring rains threaten to drown corn production

Farmers are weeks behind in planting

By John Seewer
The Associated Press

        TOLEDO — Soggy fields and forecasts for more rain are beginning to worry farmers who are weeks behind schedule on planting corn.

        Soon, each day of delay could mean less production once the corn is in the ground.

        By this time of year, farmers want to have most of their crop planted, but in most counties, less than a quarter of the corn is done. In some places, it's even worse.

[photo] Jerry May walks through a section of soggy field on his Blanchester farm.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
        “We haven't planted anything,” said Jerry May, who farms about 1,000 acres near Blanchester in southwest Ohio. “I seriously doubt whether we'll get much, if any, corn planted at all this year.”

        Some farmers say they have only have a couple more weeks to get their corn planted before they will switch to another crop. May said if his fields don't dry by Wednesday, he'll go with soybeans even though it would interrupt his crop rotation and could lead to disease.

        “You get depressed over it. But you have to realize that things are out of your control,” he said.

        This is the slowest start since 1998, said Kit Fogle, executive director of the Ohio Farmers Union.

        “It's getting pretty serious now for the corn crop. Usually, May 10 is the date farmers like to have their corn planted,” Mr. Fogle said.

        The wet weather has allowed farmers an average of only nine days of field work since April 1, according to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service.

        And just 11 percent of the state's corn crop had been planted as of Monday compared with 64 percent at this time last year.

        “We get a day away from being fit to be in there, and we'd get a shower,” said Bruce Clevenger, Ohio State University's agricultural extension agent in Defiance County.

        Two of the state's top grain producing counties — Wood and Henry in northwest Ohio — have about 20 percent of the corn crop in the ground, said extension agent Alan Sundermeier.

        “We're not in a desperate situation yet,” he said.

        “The longer it goes, the more critical it gets.”

        Rob Rettig, who farms about 2,000 acres near Napoleon, said he has about half his crop done.

        “We're probably one of the lucky ones,” he said. “It's not great, but it's better than most folks.”

        The conditions threaten to make it more expensive for farmers this year. Some believe they will have to buy more herbicides and pesticides to protect their crops.

        In addition, because of the moisture, they may have to pay more to have their corn dried at grain elevators in the fall.

        Because of wet conditions in other major corn-producing states, planting is behind schedule there as well. That threatens to reduce the yield nationally and increase corn prices, said Dale Arnold, director of commodities and marketing information for the Ohio Farm Bureau.

        Bill O'Bryan, who farms 120 acres near Hillsboro in Highland County, said he may let his fields sit idle if the weather continues. His fields are so wet it would take at least a week without rain for them to dry out.

        “It just feel like it's another blow to the farmer,” he said. “All we can do is hang in there.”

        Online: The Ohio Agriculture Statistics Service

Erpenbeck accused in felony theft case
Real estate laws leave buyers stranded
Jammin' returns as Main event
Speedway more vigilant
Bush brings in $2M for Taft
Police to monitor parties at UC
Reward for tips on missing woman
Schools lose 3 officers after accusations
St. X students rehab house
Tristate A.M. Report
Welfare group criticizes president's reform plan
MCNUTT: Neighborhoods
RADEL: Citizen board Here's your chance to improve city
SAMPLES: Risky business
THOMPSON: Faith Matters
Boy improves after near-drowning
Fireworks are back for the Fourth in Hamilton
Lakota West teen keeps giving
Man pleads guilty to murder, rape last year
Milford, schools to buy land
Pair, charged in boy's discipline, free on bond
Student always helps
Agency fines local firms after deaths
Black presses O'Connor on campaign rules
Chief cited in coverup is replaced
Equestrian equity goal of new national league
Fake uniforms found after arrest
Five police officers honored
- Heavy spring rains threaten to drown corn production
Judge approves $1B deal
Mayor brings teen vandals to justice
Officials stop Athens teens' 'Fight Club'
Put-in-Bay mayor ends uneasy reign
Runaway train called a fluke
Bank also sues auditor for Wilkinson
Kentucky News Briefs
Man charged in church shooting won't face death
National Guard leave state airports today
Pick-up games score points for Murray State president
Serving those who served
Wal-Mart dispute is aired