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Optimistic farmers 'just have to wait'

By JOE CENTERS • Jun 21, 2019 at 9:00 PM

We are in trouble.

As the rain continues to pound the area, farmers can only sit and wait and, really, do nothing.

That is not good for them. That is not good for the economy.

Tom Ruffing and Roger Stang, salesmen with Sunrise Cooperative, took time out Thursday morning to talk about the weather and how it affects local farmers.

“Corn planting is 65 to 70 percent,” Ruffing said. “I have growers today who have not planted the first kernel or corn or beans.

“Ohio is 46 percent planted in soybeans and today we should be 100 percent.”

And, as Ruffing points out, “A lot of it isn’t done correctly. I have been doing this 40 years and this is unprecedented. ...There is nothing we can do. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature. 

“It always seems like we are one or two days away of getting back into the field and this happens. It starts raining. That ground is a sponge. There is no room left. A little two-tenths of an inch (of rain) looks like an inch.”

Following the interviews for this story, rain fell steady for several hours, leading to a flash flood warning for Huron County and surrounding areas and further pushing back planting opportunities for farmers.

In addition to being salesmen, Ruffing and Stang both farm, so they see both sides of it. They can’t get into their own fields and can’t do much to help their customers.

“We’re not farming by the day anymore; we’re farming by the hour,” Stang said. “We get two hours, three hours a day to get a field planted. We don’t know which hour we will be in the field. I’ve seen July 4 in the past where we have seen tassle corn. I have corn just emerging from the ground today.

“Tom and I should be spraying soybeans ... and our growers don’t even have that crop in. It’s everybody.”

“When you have all of this water, the plant just shuts down,” Ruffing. “I’ve got 90 acres of my own corn that needs to be sprayed yet and the corn is up. Not only is the corn competing with the wet conditions but with the weeds. ... It’s been a trickle-down effect.”

What about crop insurance?

“If you decide not to plant “the farmer is not going to get rich or make any money,” Ruffing said. “It will cover your costs. It’s just been a struggle for everybody. ... The stress level is getting high. All we can do is wait.

“On top of all of this, the grain markets haven’t been all that good the last couple of years. (Before the season started) we could hardly pencil in a profit this year.”

And making matters worse, the gas tax in Ohio is going up July 1 so that 19-cent a gallon increase in diesel fuel will be another added expense. And farmers use a lot of diesel fuel.

“It’s got to spill over to the economy,” Ruffing said.

All they can do is let the farmers “cry on our shoulders,” he added. “I don’t know what to tell these guys anymore.”

That’s probably why farmers don’t get a lot of sleep.

But, as Ruffing said, “farmers are eternally optimistic. There is nothing we can do. We just have to wait.”

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