I-80 Planting Tour 2017: Ohio Farmers Need Good Crop

April 19, 2017 02:55 PM

A majority of Ohio farmers have yet to put their planters in the field according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report. Farmers say that could all change this week.

A week ago, Joe Barker, a farmer from Antwerp, Ohio, would have said he wouldn’t be planting corn anytime soon.

“Ten days ago we had three and a half inch of rain right through here,” said Barker. “We had standing water in a lot of places.”

April showers brought spring weather to his area over the weekend.  

“We’ve had a tremendous improvement in the last four days or so,” said Barker. “We were blessed with a really aggressive warm wind and that really dried us out.”

Yet, Barker isn’t in a hurry to roll his planter on Ohio’s heavy clay soils. Like many of the state’s farmers, he’s experienced a tough couple of growing seasons ranging from too wet to too dry.

He’s meeting with his crop consultant hoping to produce good yields in 2017.

“If we plant a little later in April, then we insure ourselves for a little better success rate,” said Barker. “It’s important for a lot of folks I work for that they have a good season in 2017.”

Josh Schumacher, a farmer from Pandora, Ohio, is checking the seed spacing on his planter, seeing if everything is ready to go.

“We’re going to plant less seeds,” said Schumacher. “Hopefully we can save on seed costs.”

He could hit the fields in Pandora at any time.

“It’s drying up nice,” said Schumacher. “They’ve been wetter. We got an inch when they got three or four inches. We’ve really been pretty lucky.”

Like Barker, he says 2017 is an important year for the state’s farmers who have suffered losses in the past.

“It’s very crucial we have a good year this year,” said Schumacher. “I would say farmers better get things right again as far as their finances.”

Wheat was very prominent in northwest Ohio roughly 10 years ago, but these farmers are producing less wheat with the rest of the country.

“For this 2017 season, about 5 percent of our total acres are in wheat,” said Barker.

Those acres are even less for Schumacher.

“We do not have wheat this year for the first time in a long time, strictly because of price,” said Schumacher.

The focus is on soybeans for both of these farmers.

“We are planting soybeans after beans on a few fields just because of price,” said Schumacher. “We forward contracted some, but not as much as we should have done.”

“I’m going to be heavier on soybeans than our history has ever been for this 2017 season,” said Barker. “I forward contracted a pretty good chunk two months ago. We were blessed and hit some numbers that hit our targets.”

It’s an area of the Buckeye State where farmers say patience and preparation may pay off as they hope for a better crop in 2017.

Schumacher has been a seed salesman since 2011. He said this year he sold the least amount of wheat to customers since he started.

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