Wet spring leads to less corn, soybeans growing this summer

Extremely wet weather and cooler than normal temperatures throughout early spring left U.S. farmers lagging when it comes to planting progress, meaning less corn and soybeans were planted in Ohio this year.

Normally, farmers in the Buckeye State are at least halfway finished with planting their corn by the middle of May. Only 33% of corn had been planted in Ohio by June 2, the lowest figure for that stage of the spring on record. To put that figure in perspective, the five-year average for the beginning of June is 90%. As each day and each rain shower passed, farmers became a little more impatient and a lot more anxious.

Clark County farmer Brent Pence started planting a few acres in April, then had to sit out most of the month of May.

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Despite the wet fields in May, Brent Pence of Clark County used some high-tech, low-scale ingenuity to get some of his fields sprayed for weed control. He used a GPS-guided Gator with a sprayer hitched behind it. This lighter weight gear replaced a tractor-sprayer, which would have caused deep ruts in rain-soaked fields. This past spring was the wettest on record and kept many farmers from planting at all this year.

“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 in May. “As far as changing up our crop lineup or chemistries or marketing strategies, we are staying the course for now.”

As the delayed planting progress continued into late May and early June, farmers faced some tough decisions, including changing their crop lineups, switching acres meant for corn over to soybeans (which have a shorter growing season) or not putting any crop into the ground at all.

Glen Newcomer from Williams County had made very little progress by early June. Crop insurance decisions had to be made then and it was too wet for too long. At that point, Newcomer had only planted about 30 acres of his 1,600 acres intended for corn.

For all of Ohio, June 5 was the final corn planting date for crop insurance. After that date, if a field had not been sown, farmers had the option of filing a prevent plant claim with their insurance carrier and not planting corn this year.

Driving past a dormant field that once had acres of Fourth of July knee-high corn coming up is evidence that many farmers did not plant at all — thanks to a very wet spring.