Last week, in USDA's July 13 Crop Progress report, Ohio’s corn was rated as the worst in the country. This week, in the July 20 report, USDA says just 46% of corn is good to excellent, up points from last week. Fifteen percent is rated as poor, another 5% is very poor. And because of continued rains, farmers think they’ll be hard-pressed to see much improvement.
Clearly, northwestern Ohio farmers are experiencing a much different season than 2014.
“Last year my corn averaged over 200 bushels to the acre. That’s spectacular year for us in northwest Ohio. That’s not normal. This field here could be 25 to 40 bushels to the acre,” said Fred Pond, a farmer and seed dealer in Scott, Ohio.
“For most of the corn fields, if we’re able to harvest, I would guess them to be 50 to 75 bushel to the acre, depending from here on out,” said Grover Hill, Ohio farmer Kent Eddy.
That’s because the area was hit hard by rain, with 10 to 20 inches in June and more rainfall already in July.
“Some of the fields that got out early and the growing point on the corn was above the water, looks substantially better. Corn fields that were a little bit later and the growing point of the corn was below where water accumulated have really suffered dramatically,” said Pond.
Producers had a small window to plant and apply inputs because of the rain. “We’ve done almost no field work to do our side-dressing and finish planting and anything since about the latter part of May,” said Pond.
It's also leading to some tremendously varied fields. "We have corn head-high ready to tassel and corn that's not even knee-high in the same field," said Kent Eddy, a farmer in Grover Hill, Ohio.
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The situation may bring a record number of insurance claims. “This has been the wettest year I have experienced. We have more prevent plant claims than we’ve ever had in this agency before. Claims load up for prevent plants and replants,” said Rex Williamson, a crop insurance adjuster with Williamson Insurance Agency.
While Williamson says he doesn’t have his official numbers tallied just yet, he estimates one of the counties in northwestern Ohio had at least 100,000 acres unplanted at the start of the month.
Even replants have been a challenge. “Just as often a client submitted a replant notice of loss and was never able to get in and replant. It just says wet and there it sits. So, replanting has been a struggle. The policy does pay for it if you can, you’re required to replant. Unfortunately, we’ve been preventative this year,” said Williamson.
Eddy knows that situation all too well. He used to preventative plant on 10% of his soybeans. “The stand has thinned out. Some have died. Even the ragweeds don’t want to grow out here,” said Eddy.
Pond hasn’t given up on soybeans. He’s hoping for at least half a bean crop. “I think there’s some potential here on these beans. I think guys could have a pretty good bean crop in places. It’s going to be spotty, depending on where they’re at. With our soil types, we’re used to adversity here anyway,” he said.
It’s a different season than 2014. “Years like this, we’re going to be living off crop insurance,” said Eddy.
Williamson said there have been a few good field days, so that early July estimate of 100,000 unplanted acres may drop. He’s waiting for more exact numbers in USDA’s August 12 report.