Trumbull County farmlands drying out

Isn’t it nice to finally have some dry weather?

I know I was happy, as we were able to put up some hay last week — but the saying “too little, too late” is sticking in my mind. By the time the ground dried out well enough to get the rest of the corn crop in, the potential for yield had declined because it was so late. As I mentioned in last month’s article, many farmers were hoping to plant corn this year as it looked to be a more profitable crop.

Well, there was corn planted in Trumbull County, but not nearly as much as farmers were hoping. Many acres of ground intended for corn were planted with soybeans because they need fewer days to mature for harvest. This has an impact on the farmers’ pocket book, and could increase the potential for disease in places where soybeans were planted on the same field for multiple years in a row.

Livestock farmers, especially dairy farmers, are still reeling from a poor growing season in 2018 that left their feed supplies short. I know some dairies have had to purchase feed from off the farm for the last few months, further diminishing possible profits. Add to that the forecast for this growing season, and you can imagine the stress they may be under. Fortunately, there is still time to plant forages to harvest as silage, though it won’t be as high quality or produce as much tonnage as a full season corn crop could provide.

The USDA has recognized the serious need for feed for our livestock, and they have granted a one-year waiver to plant corn as a cover crop that can be harvested as silage. They have also opened up a wide variety of other cover crop options that will help farmers grow forage, prevent weed seed and provide financial support for seeding the cover crops.

OSU Extension has been in continuous contact with the USDA to make the case for farmers, while also helping to clarify changes to policy as they roll out from the USDA. To help keep information up-to-date, a dedicated FAQ website has been created that will be updated on a regular basis as new questions arise or new information becomes available.

I’ve been asked many times over the last few months what the situation in Trumbull County looks like, and my answer has always been a version of “It’s not good, but it could definitely be worse.” Speaking to my colleagues in northwest Ohio, they have very few acres of crops planted (10%) compared to northeast Ohio. We may be farther ahead on planted acres, but the real measure of the growing season won’t be known until harvest this fall.

It’s a stressful time. There are many progressive, experienced, great farmers out there who did everything right, and still fell short. It’s not their fault — sometimes Mother Nature wins. If you know a farmer I’d advise that you stop in and see how he or she is doing. Let them know that there are resources available to help them to deal with stress and programs to help.

Please feel free to reach out to us directly with any questions you may have for yourself or others, and let us know how we can help.

Trumbull County Fair

I want to leave this article on a good note because not everything in the agricultural world is doom and gloom. The Trumbull County Fair is going on this week, and I encourage everyone to get out and see what agriculture is about. There are numerous animals, displays and a huge variety of 4-H projects that show the work of our county’s youth. It is a great time to learn about where your food comes from, and what is growing in our county. Stop and ask a 4-H kid about his or her project — they have put a lot of hard work into the project so they are usually willing to talk about it proudly.

More positive news

On another positive note, I was visiting with a local dairy farmer a couple of weeks ago, and he was going through the process of putting in a new milking parlor. He’s investing in Trumbull County’s ag future, and I hope you all do as well.

• The Trumbull County Master Gardeners are now accepting applications for the 2019 training class. If you are interested in applying, call to request an application. Applications are due by July 20 to be considered for this year’s class.

• Mark your calendars for Aug. 24 when we hold a hay-making workshop in Johnston Township. We’ll have dealer displays, demonstrations and experts to talk about making high-quality hay in a tough year. We’ll be talking equipment settings, nutrient testing, hay-making processes (wet and dry hay) and generally how to make the best-quality hay possible.

For information, call the OSU Trumbull County Extension Office at 330-638-6783 or visit our website.

Submitted by Lee Beers, OSU Extension Educator, who can be reached by email.