GREENVILLE — Darke County is the largest corn and soybean producer in the state of Ohio, but it won’t be this year as wet weather continues to take a toll on area farmers. So if county fields appear empty, it’s not your imagination.
Speaking to Sam Custer, OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resource for Darke County, his response was clear on Monday morning.
“It’s not good.”
While some Ohio farmers are making headway south of Interstate 70 and east of Columbus with 70 percent of crops planted, Darke County has far to go. Custer surveyed thirty county farmers last Friday with corn falling just short of ten percent planted with only four percent for soybeans.
“We should be 100 percent planted by now,” continued Custer, a near impossible endeavor as in May alone the county received over nine inches of rain. The average should be in the four-inch range.
According to Custer, it’s been a soaker for months, since October there has been above average precipitation.
Working alongside Dr. Aaron B. Wilson, Senior Research Associate – Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and OSU Extension (BPCRC) – Custer says they’ve never seen anything like this before, even a wet year in 1981 is no comparison.
“From here to the Michigan line little to nothing is planted,” said Custer noting the Findlay area received four inches of rain over the weekend. However, clear skies on Monday left him optimistic farmers would attempt to get into the fields to beat the corn planting deadline today (June 5) for crop insurance.
Every day after that deadline means a reduction in insurance coverage.
The soybean planting deadline is June 20.
Another urgency to get into the fields is the tremendous number of livestock in the county. Most of the hay crop, Custer stating as much as 80 percent, was lost over the winter due to extreme weather.
According to Custer, an extension educator in Wayne County reported hay was going for $800 a ton at auction in Wooster.
Hay typically sells at $150 a ton.
“Hay is just unbelievable in price,” said Custer. “It’s like gold.”
Agricultural is the number one source of funds for the county. The revenue generated by agricultural significant in comparison to all other industries. A challenging year like this one can produce a trickle-down effect economically for everyone. Farmers who typically spend their money in the county for new farm equipment to cars, furniture, and other expenditures may not be able to do so this year.
On a positive note, farmers are a resilient community.
“They will figure out of a way to make things work and get through to better times,” said Custer while encouraging farmers, families, and other people in the community to keep an eye on one another, to not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. “If need be.”
“We’re in a very critical period,” continued Custer, emphasizing farmers should be in direct contact with their crop insurance agents. “This week is the week when all decisions will [need to] be made.”
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) crop progress report released May 28, corn planted in the state of Ohio as of May 20 was only 9 percent. By May 26, it was 22 percent, low compared to 80 percent in the same timeframe in 2018.
Neighboring Indiana has not fared much better with corn planting at 22 percent compared to 94 percent last year at the same time. Meanwhile, Kentucky has 82 percent planted, not far from the 89 percent planted by this time last year.
As of May 26, only 11 percent of soybeans had been planted in Ohio, low compared to the same time in 2018, which stood at 65 percent.