By Danae King, The Lima News, Ohio
The ground is wet and cold, definitely not ideal for spring planting. That's why some farmers are choosing to hold off until May.
Spring planting for oats, corn and soybean crops usually take place between April and early May, but it's been done as late as June, said James Hoorman, the Ohio State University Extension educator in Putnam County.
"It's not time to worry about it yet," Hoorman said, though some research shows that the later planting takes place, the lower the crop's yield.
Fieldwork hasn't yet started for Elida farmer Stanley Brenneman, as his fields are totally saturated and flooded right now.
He'll start spring planting "whenever the fields dry up," he said.
"It's probably going to be after April 15," Brenneman said. Right now, he's just getting all his equipment shined up and oiled up at the farm he owns with his brother on Grubb Road.
In Auglaize County, planting hasn't commenced because many areas got at least an inch of rain, said Jeff Stachler, the Ohio State University Extension educator in Auglaize County.
"Guys are just getting their equipment ready to go, getting seed ready to go," Stachler said.
If there's no more rain, planting could start as early as seven to 10 days from now, he said, though farmers have had good yield when planting in late May for the past few years.
Those who waited until late May to plant found timely rainfall and a uniformly emerging crop in the past few years, Stachler said.
Still, "if soil conditions are fit to plant, you plant, and the earlier, the better," he said.
There were only 1.1 days with the right conditions for planting in Ohio this past week, according to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.
"The weather was slightly cooler and wetter than normal, and soil moisture surpluses and low soil temperatures kept most out of the field," according to an email from the service. "A limited planting of oats occurred on higher and lighter soil. Vegetable planting for growers with high tunnels was underway, but most others occupied themselves with the preparation of equipment and planning for warmer and drier soil."
Drier soil and warmer temperatures is what Putnam County farmer Mike Weller is waiting for.
"Soil temperatures aren't high enough to germinate seed," said Weller, part owner of Weller Farms in Continental.
He's not holding his breath, as the forecast shows a cool and wet spring, he said.
As many farmers know, when it comes to weather, "anything can happen," Stachler said.