June 2, 2011


US state's corn crop hit by rain



The corn crop in US state Ohio, which looked like it could be the second-biggest planting since World War II in April, is now in danger of being one of the smallest planted.


Frequent rains throughout April and May have left fields in alternating states of flooded, soggy, and muddy, making it almost impossible for Ohio's farmers to get their corn planted.


As of Sunday, only 19% of the state's corn crop had been planted, which was 74% behind last year's place and the state's five-year average for this time of year. Only 7% of soy has been planted, although there is more time to plant them than corn without great yield loss.


"I probably am a little above average planting corn than everybody else. We're at 75%," said Gary Baldosser, who farms in parts of Seneca and Sandusky counties. Baldosser said he started planting May 10 and opted to plant corn in drier fields already prepared for soy.


"I had already made the decision to plant whatever ground was fit for corn. But now we do not have any beans planted, so that was the trade- off," he said. "It was critical to get the corn into the ground."


Roy Klopfenstein, a farmer in Paulding County, has only been able to plant 20% of his corn planted but no soy yet. "North of us has a little more planted and south of us about the same," he said. He plans to hold off on an insurance decision until June 11, then decide whether to plant beans in corn fields or let fields go fallow.


Charlie Russell, an agricultural statistician who prepares Ohio's weekly crop weather report for the US Department of Agriculture, said the rainy weather has hurt farmers statewide, not just across northwest Ohio. "Illinois is 98% planted, Indiana 46%, Michigan is in the 40s too," he said.


In April, Ohio farmers were forecast to plant nearly 3.7 million acres of corn, up from 3.45 million in 2010. "It will drop significantly from the April planting prediction," Russell said.


Ohio State University agricultural extension agents Florian Chirra and Mark Koenig said soil throughout the area remains damp, and more rain is possible this week.


"The soil is super-saturated at this time," said Chirra, who works in the Williams County extension office. "[Farmers] could push it back to July but then the yield keeps reducing so that you're getting down to 20 bushel per acre by the end of June."


Galen Koepke of Koepke Insurance in Oak Harbor, a crop insurance firm that does business in eight northwest Ohio counties, said his phone has been ringing off the hook with worried farmers. "Most of the people I've talked to are going to wait up until June 10 on corn," he said. "And the final date for insurance for beans is June 20."

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