Local farmers, other growers say they are coping with dry growing season

By LOUISE SWARTZWALDER - lswartzwalder@civitasmedia.com

Louise Swartzwalder | The Star Soybean fields are not faring well due to this year’s extended lack of rainfall.

The sun-filled days of summer are good news to most — vacationers, kids, people who like the longer days of this season.

But they have a definite down side to people who are dependent on things that grow: farmers, gardening and planting specialists.

One good measure of how dry it is falls to the lowly weed.

“When the weeds wilt, it’s dry,” says Tom Wade, of Wade Gardens Landscaping.

Crop areas around Bellville and Butler show forlorn, short corn and soybeans. Some corn, which looks thinly planted, is trying to tassle even though it’s about two feet tall.

Some areas look as though they haven’t been planted. Fields have been shorn, though, of the straw and corn stalks put into round bales.

Wade says it “takes a lot more water” for anything planted.

He has ten people on three crews doing landscaping work.

“If you think it’s drying out, just give it a week,” he says.

Though there was a smattering of rain at times over the last week, the amount that came from the skies wasn’t enough to measure.

Farmer Larry Oyster, of Bellville, says the crops on his farm are “holding up better” than he had thought they would.

His farm, off State Route 97, got .7 inches of rain in the last four weeks, he said. Areas around Mansfield and Fredericktown got much more, said Oyster.

He harvested his wheat, on 30 acres, and got a good yield, he said.

He has 470 acres in corn and soybeans.

Oyster said part of what helps him is the fact he is a no-till farmer. This means the old practices done in the past, where farmers would plough everything, are gone. No-till farming means fields “conserve moisture,” he said.

He said his soybeans didn’t give him a “very good stand.” He said it was extremely wet when he planted his soybeans, but then the “spigot got turned off.”

He said he hasn’t conversed with farmer friends about the no rain situation. He said all are “in the same boat.”

“In our profession you roll with the punches,” he said.

Oyster said his son, who works at the Shelby hospital, helps him. And a neighbor, who is 79, also helps.

He said he and his helpers are a “ragtag” operation.

Information from official sources doesn’t tell anyone much about specific moisture records, but does reveal some information about how crops are doing.

Officials with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service put out reports that tell the status of various items: corn silking, corn condition, and soybeans blooming or setting pods.

Corn silking went from a 7 per cent to a 31 per cent rate from July 10 through July 17. Forty nine per cent of soybeans were blooming by the July 17 date.

The topsoil moisture condition is short in 38 per cent of the Ohio area, and 37 per cent of the areas have adequate topsoil moisture, acccording to the USDA. Only 12 per cent of the areas in the state have surplus subsoil moisture, the USDA says.

The official information helpfully tells the public that many days are suitable for field work. The number was 1.6 days around July 17 last year. This year on that same date the number was 6.1 days. That is up from 5.9 days the week of July 10.

Wade said he believes the weather forecasts he has heard are not helpful.

He said forecasters are “real good at predicting tomorrow’s” weather. But they don’t get much right about the future.

He said people are better off if they know these rules: if it’s wet, that means rain.

If it’s “blowing real hard” that means it’s windy.

Louise Swartzwalder | The Star Soybean fields are not faring well due to this year’s extended lack of rainfall.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2016/07/web1_20160719_093851-2-.jpgLouise Swartzwalder | The Star Soybean fields are not faring well due to this year’s extended lack of rainfall.



Reach Louise at 419-886-2291 ext. 1982

Reach Louise at 419-886-2291 ext. 1982