This year has been a much better year for local farmers to get their crops planted than last year. As of last week, estimates were that 95 to 100% of the corn was planted and 85% of the soybeans. By this time, farmers probably have planted all of these crops they are going to get in the ground. Now they would like warm weather and adequate moisture to help them grow. Right now, both corn and soybeans look good and let’s hope growing conditions continue to be favorable.
Wheat rust has been a problem in a few wheat fields. Some spraying has been done by airplane to help control the problem. Many of our fields are too small for the airplanes to spray them, so the amount of airplane spraying is usually limited. One source said they thought about 2,000 acres was sprayed by air.
First cutting of hay has been made on many farms the past three weeks. Hay is an important crop for livestock farmers and for those who grow it for sale to others. Sale of hay to horse owners is a good business for several growers. If the first cutting was made early enough and if given enough moisture, farmers can get a good second cutting of high-quality hay. In some years, a few may even make a third cutting.
Hay is harvested by several methods. Early hay is often field chopped into bunker silos or a few tall upright silos are still being used. Some goes into the long, large airtight plastic bags for silage that you may see around the county. A lot of hay also is baled. You may see large round bales wrapped in plastic out in fields this time of the year. Hay for sale is often harvested in square bales of different sizes.
Dairy farmers, and we still have a few good ones left in the area, have been seeing some improvement in milk prices. Cheese is one of the main ways milk is used and cheese prices have been unusually high recently despite high inventories. The United States Department of Agriculture has been buying a considerable amount for use in various programs for low-income families and that has helped the overall price for cheese.
Also, the export market has been good, especially to Southeast Asian countries and a limited amount to China. Mexico is also a good market for dairy products such as dried milk powder, whey and cheese.
With the increased interest in buying locally grown products, there have been a few more small fruit and vegetable growers. These are mostly smaller producers but are an important part of the agriculture economy in the county. Some of this produce is sold through farmers markets, a good direct farmer to consumer method.
There also has been an increase in wineries. Some of these may grow their own wine variety of grapes to make their wine. A few may buy juice and make their wine while others may use different juices for different kinds.
Overall, it has been a good spring in the county for farmers to get their crops in the ground. One told me the other day that he has corn knee-high already, good for this time of the year. Now we need prices good enough at harvest to provide a reasonable family income for the farm family.
Submitted by John Parker, an independent writer for Farm Bureau and other organizations.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.