DARKE COUNTY — Local farms may experience a roller coaster harvesting season this year, according to information from local farmers and agriculture experts.
“This will be a long harvest season,” said Sam Custer, a specialist in agriculture, natural resources, and farm management at Ohio State University’s Darke County extension office, “as a result of a long planting window and a significant number of replant acres of corn and soybeans.”
In addition, according to Custer, this year’s harvest will see a great deal of variability, with some very good corn and soybean yields, as well as some very low yields forecasted. The low yields will be a result of the difficult planting season caused by an excessively rainy July, followed by an extremely dry August and September.
“Overall, my forecast will be for yields to come in at just below average,” Custer said.
According to an Ohio Department of Agriculture report issued October 2, “Scarce to nonexistent rains and soaring temperatures helped dry down fields and open them to harvest, but the effect may have been excessive.”
According to Cheryl Turner, Ohio State Statistician for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the scarce rainfall in Ohio was limited mostly to the northeastern part of the state, leaving some soybean crops without enough moisture. In contrast, moisture content of corn harvested remained fairly high. The wide variation in maturity for both crops, however, has posed a challenge to the timing of harvest operations.
“Some growers decided to wait until rain could add some moisture back before harvest,” according to Turner’s report. “Other growers proceeded with harvest, taking measures to minimize shattering and splits. There were multiple reports of combine fires, underscoring the challenges of what has become a very dry season.”
A common theme among farmers in the area was that of multiple replantings, which prompted some in the farming community to coin the term “threeplant.” As a result of the heavy rains, crops planted too late in the spring were drowned out.
Despite these challenges, many farmers reported better than expected yields. Aaron Overholser, who raised about 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans this year, reported that his crops were actually better than last year, with corn boasting an above average yield and soybeans holding at about average. Overholser credited early planting and good drainage with saving his crop.
“Our fields are tiled,” Overholser said, “which means they have a tube buried under the soil that drains the water away. That seemed to help.”
Overholser still had to struggle with some drowned out crops, however.
“We had to do some replanting,” Overholser said, “but it was manageable.”
Korey Harrod, who raised 600 acres each of corn and soybeans, also reported that corn yields were a little better than last year’s, while soybeans remained about the same.
“We’ve got some fields that are worse, and some that are better,” Harrod said.
Like Overholser, Harrod planted early.
“Weather conditions were right, so we got started. That’s the way it works out sometimes,” Harrod said.
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