Extremely wet weather and cooler than normal temperatures throughout early spring has U.S. farmers lagging when it comes to planting progress. Most producers only have about half of the crop planted that they normally would for this time of year. For Ohio farmers, the problem is much worse.
Normally, farmers in the Buckeye State would be at least halfway finished with planting their corn seeds by the mid part of May. This year, however, the vast majority of those seeds are still in the bag.
As of May 20, 2019 only 9% of corn has been planted in Ohio, the lowest figure for this stage of spring on record. As each day and each rain shower passes, farmers become a little more impatient and a lot more anxious.
For Clark County farmer Brent Pence, planting season began in the middle of April. After getting a few acres planted, his tractor and planter have sat quietly in the barn for over a month.
“The only thing that is keeping me sane at this point is that on the days that we were able to plant, we got many of the kinks worked out of some new equipment so when the fields are ready again we will be too,” Pence said. “As far as changing up our crop lineup or chemistries or marketing strategies, we are staying the course for now.”
If the delayed planting progress continues and May becomes June, farmers will be faced with some tough decisions about choosing shorter season corn hybrids or switching acres meant for corn over to soybeans instead.
For all of Ohio, June 5 is the final corn planting date for crop insurance. After that, if a field has not been sown, a farmer has the option of filing a prevent plant claim with their insurance carrier.
“The most difficult part about getting through a wet spring like this is finding something else to do,” said Ben Bowsher, who farms in Allen County. “I have cleaned every part of the shop and all of the prep work for planting has been done maybe two or three times at this point. Some of our best crops have come after a later than normal planting date, so we aren’t in panic mode quite yet but the sooner we can get started the better.”
Despite the wet fields, Brent Pence has used some high-tech, low-scale ingenuity to get some of his fields sprayed for weed control. He is using a GPS-guided Gator with a sprayer hitched behind it. This lighter weighted gear replaces a tractor-sprayer, which would have caused deep ruts in rain soaked fields.