LIMA — After a slow start, the spring planting season is finally underway.
Area farmers have just this week gotten in fields to do work and begin planting corn and soybeans. Until a week ago, the region’s ground had been too wet for work.
“We actually got into the fields on [May 5]. At least in our area and our farms, this was the first fit day we’ve had this spring,” said Bob Fricke, of Fricke Farms. He and Denny Fricke farm 500 acres of soybeans and corn in American Township. “The ground’s been so wet and saturated. But everyone’s been in the field this week. The ground’s finally turned. And we needed a little heat to germinate. So everyone’s getting at it.”
The five-year average for corn by this time of year is 40 percent planted; as of May 6, it was less than 10 percent for the state overall. That number is expected to jump after this week’s work.
“It really varies widely across the state. It just depends on how much moisture you’ve had,” said Jim Hoorman, OSU Extension educator in Putnam County for agriculture and natural resources. “A lot more has been done to the north. Van Wert’s a little behind; they had some thunderstorms. Hancock is pretty good. Putnam is pretty good. I’d estimate that just in Putnam County we have 65 percent of the corn in now, and 25 to 30 percent of soybeans in, after this week.”
Also as of this week, about 67 percent of oats have been planted in Ohio, compared with a five-year average of 75 percent for this time of year; and 1 percent of soybeans have been planted, compared with a five-year average of 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture crop weather statistics.
Hoorman didn’t think yields would be affected by the slow start. Generally, corn starts to lose yield if it’s planted after May 10, but two years ago much of the corn wasn’t planted until June and other favorable weather conditions resulted in a bumper crop. Last year’s corn was planted early. While 80 percent was in the ground by this time in 2012, drought conditions reduced yield in many areas across the state and nation.
“It really depends on the moisture this summer,” Hoorman said. “If we have regular rains this summer, we’ll have bumper yields. We also need the rain at the right time for pollination, especially for corn.”
Soybeans are more forgiving, Hoorman said, and don’t need to be planted until the end of May. The summer forecast of above average moisture and a little cooler temperatures are good for both corn and beans, Hoorman said.
What Fricke is seeing is close to average for the area with a little delay, he said. Normally, by this time, many farmers would have had the chance to get in the fields and do some prep work first, but that hasn’t been the case this year. He also didn’t think the delay would have much of an effect on the result.
“We’ve just needed some dryer weather, and now a little rain when you need it,” Fricke said.