Too Much Rain For Fall Harvest
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Most of us would be very unhappy if our income for a good part of the year was standing out in some fields and we couldn't get to it. And that part of our much needed food supply is also out there and not available.
Yet, that is what area farmers have been experiencing this past week. Rain and plenty of it kept coming down. There are many fields of corn and a few soybeans standing around the area. About all the farmers could do was stay inside and wonder when they would be able to get out and harvest those valuable crops because fields were so soggy wet.
What makes the situation even more difficult for them is the fairly good price for corn and beans this fall. Drought conditions across much of the United States have reduced yields and increased prices. Knowing that those crops are valuable and they can't get out and harvest them has to be real frustrating.
It's hard to tell just how many acres of corn and soybeans were planted last spring. Because it was a good spring to get them in the ground, more acres than usual were planted. Estimates are that something over 20,000 acres of corn were carefully planted and over 32,000 acres of soybeans in Ashtabula County and smaller acreages in Geauga.
Then all summer long, farmers were concerned about lack of rain. Day after day of hot, dry weather with temperatures in the ï¿½80s and ï¿½90s had many farmers worried. All they could do was watch the sky and hope and pray for a good rain. Yet, we had scattered summer thunderstorms that provided enough moisture at the right time for most farmers to get a reasonable crop. Not what they called an excellent one, but yields looked a lot better in September than many of them expected.
So, they looked forward to a good harvest and getting their crops in the bin or off to market. But once again, Mother Nature entered into the picture. October did have enough good days to allow much soybean and some corn to be harvested. But given the heavy rains of last week, conditions were such that the combines had to be parked for several days.
Now farmers can remember last year. Conditions all fall were extremely wet and combines would get stuck or fields were cut up and huge ruts left when the machine could run. It's a similar situation this fall with the recent rains.
Given the dry summer, no one predicted the conditions that now exist. Nature seems to have a way of leveling out rain and temperatures. Farmers need the moisture and sunshine at the right time for the best crop growth, but nature does not always cooperate. So, area farmers are in for a frustrating fall with harvest conditions not the best.
One bright side has been the ponds are getting filled again and some farmers use them to water their livestock. Also, the rains have helped raise the water table and avoid dry wells that were a problem for some this fall.
So, if you see a farmer out in the field having trouble with the combine getting his crop harvested, remember that the food on your dinner table could be part of what he is working hard to harvest. This year we need every bushel of corn or soybeans available because of possible shortages across the country.
Then with a mild winter last year, what is Mother Nature going to deal us this year? Your guess is as good as any ones. We'll have to take what we get, unless we make the migration to Florida that some enjoy.
Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and is an independent agricultural writer.