LIMA — “It’s a dead standstill.”
Jim Hefner, like many region farmers, has yet to plant any of his corn and soybean crop this season as his fields have been saturated with rain for weeks. His Allen County farm saw 3.5 inches of rain last week, followed by another inch of rain this past weekend. He’s now three weeks behind his planting schedule, which starts in early May in a good year, with no break in sight.
“The forecast doesn’t look like there’s going to be much of a chance of doing anything in May,” said Hefner, president of the Allen County Farm Bureau. “We’re going to be probably a month late getting started, at a minimum.”
Corn and soybean planting have stalled across Ohio.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that only 9% of the state’s corn crop and 4% of the soybean crop were planted as of the week ending May 19. Compare that to this time last year, when 69% of Ohio’s corn and 47% of the state’s soybean crop were planted.
While there’s still time to plant, the latest forecast suggests planting may be delayed well into the first week of June, at the earliest. That leaves little time for farmers to work in the fields. And deadlines for preventative planting crop insurance claims to cover acreage farmers are unable to plant are coming up in June.
“The problem is, it’s not as simple as a drop-dead date,” said Nick Heitz, who farms 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in Auglaize, Hardin and Allen counties. “You can still plant late into June and if you get the right weather, you can have good crops. We can plant today and still have bad crops.
“It’s a lot more fun, a lot easier when we can go out and do our farming and be done instead of having to make these decisions, whether to plant or take the insurance.”
Deciding whether to file a preventative plant claim is itself a dilemma. Heitz said he can’t turn a profit when he takes the prevention route, but a bad yield can negatively affect his crop insurance rates.
“The farmers would much rather not collect a penny,” he said.
Heitz’s wheat crops aren’t doing well either, harmed by the cold and rain last fall, followed by a bad winter and heavy rains this spring.
For Hefner, the only thing to do while his fields are wet is test the equipment and watch the markets.
“Worry about getting the corn planted has helped the market quite a bit in the last week or two,” said Hefner, who’s still selling his corn from last season. “(But if we) run out of last year’s corn and there’s no corn for this year, it won’t matter what the price is if you don’t have any to sell.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456