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Rain doesn't dampen planting progress by state, local farmers

By Tyrel Linkhorn • May 4, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Ohio farmers more than made up for a slow start to the spring planting season last week, with the latest estimates showing twice as much corn had been planted as of the end of April than the rolling five-year average.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday about 42 percent of Ohio's corn crop was in the ground as of Sunday. That's up from just 9 percent on April 23. On average, about 21 percent of corn has been planted by the end of April, the agency reported.

That progress was made even with last week's wet finish. Nearly an inch of rain fell in the Toledo on Saturday and Sunday, tipping April's rainfall about a quarter of an inch above normal.

The National Weather Service said some areas received even more precipitation. In Cincinnati, for example, 1.85 inches fell on Saturday alone.

The wet weather likely will continue. The National Weather Service is forecasting rain from today through Saturday.

Even so, experts say Ohioans shouldn't be concerned.

"We could be rained out all this week and really not lose too much in terms of potential yield," said Alan Sundermeier, Ohio State University extension educator for Wood County.

Mr. Sundermeier said most northwest Ohio farmers still have some corn left to plant, but generally farmers don't begin worrying about potential problems unless planting is pushed past May 15.

"We are still very much in a good window," said Matt Roberts, an agricultural economist with Kernmantle Group in Columbus. "Certainly, there are some areas that are wetter than they'd like them to be, but nothing like Indiana, Illinois, or Missouri. We're in good shape."

Cool, wet conditions across much of the Midwest have raised concerns about 2017's corn crop. Commodity prices for corn rose slightly Monday as traders view conditions with caution. Mr. Roberts said some farmers in some of those areas may be forced to replant.

"There's not enough damage for there to be a fundamental change," he said, "but there's enough for people to say this is problematic if we see these kind of weather patterns persist."

Ohio farmers are expected to plant about 3.6 million acres of corn this year, the same as in 2016. And experts say profit margins are likely going to be as thin as they were last year.

"For the past couple of years, we've been operating in a pretty narrow margin. We don't expect this year to be any different," said Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. "Until we see some weather event that causes a reduction in production or a new demand coming on that's going increase demand for the corn, we anticipate to be at or slightly below the cost of production this year."

Wheat is another matter. A major weekend snowstorm that hit Kansas and other wheat-producing states is expected to have much greater effects. Ohio grows wheat but not nearly to the level of states such as Kansas.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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