DARKE COUNTY — Much spring planting has been done, but Sam Custer, educator with Ohio State University’s Darke County Extension, says recent heavy rainfall and colder-than-normal temperatures could affect some already planted fields.
“The 5.5 inches of rain that came between April 28 and May 5 have caused a great deal of erosion and ponding of water,” said Custer. “Then the cold weather and especially the Monday morning frost have brought additional issues.”
Custer reported ground level temperatures of 28.3 and 25.8 degrees on Sunday and Monday morning between 5 and 6 a.m. On Tuesday, he detected signs of frost damage in the wheat, corn and soybeans.
“For those areas that were at 28 degrees or less for two hours, we could see significant yield loss in the wheat and death to soybean plants. The corn looks bad now but I think the corn that was up will be OK,” he said.
Custer says about 85 to 90 percent of the corn had already been planted in Darke County and nearly 45 percent of the soybeans.
“This was all in the ground when the rains started on or about April 28,” he explained.
The corn and beans that have not emerged are an uncertainty at this point, according to Custer.
“We continue to watch them to see if they still have the viability to emerge,” he said. “The wet weather can suffocate the seedling and the cold slows the metabolism to the point that the seedling just does not have the desire to emerge.”
Custer said significant damage could have taken place if wheat was flowering.
“We walked the OSU Performance Trial Wheat north of Greenville and it appears that although the flag leaf was burnt by the frost, the wheat was not yet flowering,” he said. “Hopefully those in the southern part of the county that are flowering did not get the cooler temperatures.”
Custer explains corn looks bad if it got hammered by the frost, but says to remember the growing point is below the soil surface. “It will come back and be fine in the next week or so,” he said.
Soybeans with burnt leaves are probably OK, he says, but if the plant appears soft below the hypocotyl arch, it is probably dead.
As for the prospect of replanting, Custer says, “Don’t get in a hurry.”
“Evaluate your fields. I am sure some [farmers] will need to spot plant some areas that were affected by erosion or extended periods of ponding of water,” he said. “Soybeans are very adaptive. I have three years of research here in Darke County that show that actual plant counts of 50,000 plants per acre will yield within a few bushels of your optimal planting population soybeans will.”
“There has been significant drying the past couple of days but we have a ways to go,” he added. “Remember, patience is critical now, getting on to your wet fields will cause damage for this year and next also.”
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