SPRINGFIELD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Farmers were forced to delay planting season this year because of wet and cold weather.
The last time we had a month with rainfall below normal was August, which is why farmers around Youngstown had to delay the start of farming season by nearly a month. It’s been way too muddy to get into the fields until now.
Tuesday was the first day it was dry enough for Springfield Township farmer George Houk to start planting. He likes to be finished by May 10.
“We want the plants to be at their maximum leaf exposure when we have the longest days so that we can utilize the most sunlight,” he said.
Haley Shoemaker, with the Mahoning County Extension Service, said across the state of Ohio, only 9% of corn and 4% of soybeans have been planted. The five-year average by this time is 62% corn and 35% soybeans.
“Locally, we’re pretty far behind right now,” she said.
The delay was caused by spring’s wet and cool weather.
“It makes it really hard to get equipment, heavy equipment, in the fields. You don’t want to track up the fields and ruin that topsoil layer when you’re in there, tracking and mudding up the fields,” Shoemaker said.
“It’s not too dry, but it’s not too wet,” Houk said.
He dug into the field to show how the soil is crumbling.
“But when it crumbles, you’re OK,” he said.
With the soil drying, Houk hopes to get corn planted this week and then start on soybeans.
There are lights on his tractor.
“Yeah, we’ll be out here until well after the 11:00 news tonight,” he said.
If everything goes perfectly, which rarely happens in farming, Houk hopes to be done sometime next week.
Just because planting is starting late, that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be low yields at harvest.
“There are other things like disease, pressure, weather during the growth season,” Shoemaker said. “That July and August time is really kind of critical for how much rain do we get, what are the temperatures like? So there are a lot of different factors that come into what the end yield will be.”
It’s not just farms around Youngstown that are behind in planting — it’s happening nationwide. The latest report from the Department of Agriculture showed 49% of the U.S. corn crop planted well below the five-year average of 80%.