Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
By Nancy Allen
Late local planting not a concern yet
Planting behind statewide, especially in north part of state
  Cold wet weather is delaying planting in Mercer County and statewide, but it doesn't appear to be a problem yet, local agriculture officials say.
As of last Thursday about 95 percent of the corn had been planted in the county, information from the Mercer County Farm Service Agency indicates. As for soybeans, 75 percent south of Celina and about 20 percent in the northern portion of the county is in the ground.
"Some of the corn is up and some has very nice emergence and some has spotty emergence," said Todd Mangen, OSU Extension educator for Mercer County. "Until we get some warm weather that spotty emergence may just mean it's still coming."
Mangen said some fields still have standing water in them and some seeds may suffer as a result. He said he is concerned more about the county's soybeans than with corn at this point.
"For awhile I didn't see any soybeans poking out of the ground, but I am seeing some now," he said. "The ones I am concerned about are the soybeans that got put in last week and then we got all that rain and cold weather."
And those plants may come out all right too, but it depends on if the seed was treated for diseases associated with excess moisture and if the weather warms up soon, he said.
Also contributing to a slower start for soybeans this year is that the seed wasn't that good to begin with. Seed quality was down because a lot of it was harvested too dry and that damaged the seed coat, Mangen said. The seeds were dry because wet fields following last year's drought delayed their harvest and they dried out too much.
Though local producers have some worries, Mercer County still appears to be in much better shape than other parts of the state, including some northern counties, which are only 20 percent planted, he said.
According to the OSU Extension agronomy guide, to capture maximum corn yields, it should be planted between April 23 and 29 and to get at least 80 percent yield it should not be planted any later than June 4. To get maximum soybean yields, it should be planted around the first week in May during a week to a week and a half window. To get at least an 80 percent soybean yield it should not be planted any later than the first part of June.
"In this area and this point in time, we shouldn't be too concerned," Mangen said. "We obviously want to wait until the soil is ready to plant and I wouldn't mud things in ... we still have some time on both corn and beans."
Statewide, about 30 percent of the corn crop has been planted so far, only slightly behind last year, but nearly 30 percent behind the five-year average, a news release from the OSU Extension states.
In some areas, virtually all of the corn crop is planted and in other areas that have heavy clay soils, almost none of it is planted, said OSU Extension agronomist Peter Thomison in the release. But it's premature to panic, he said, adding that farmers still can get pretty good corn yields if it's planted by May 25 and sometimes even into June.
According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, soybean planting statewide also is behind schedule, with 8 percent in the ground compared to 11 percent last year and 26 percent over a five-year average.
As the days keep coming, the issue facing growers is juggling field work among corn planting, soybean planting, herbicide and fertilizer applications and planting preparations, Thomison said.
The weather forecast for what Ohio could be facing this summer also has some ag officials on edge. The latest information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the outlook for June and July is above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall, a weather pattern being driven by a Pacific Ocean La Nina.
"The agriculture community has learned not to pay attention to any weather forecast that is any longer than three days," Mercer County FSA Executive Director Chris Gibbs said.
For more information on field crop developments, log on to OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Web site at http://agcrops.osu.edu.
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