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07-12-05 Mercer County’s crops holding their own despite dry conditions

By Nancy Allen

  While some crops in Ohio are experiencing stress due to lack of rain, most crops in Mercer County are holding their own, a local agriculture official said Monday.
A local farmer harvests wheat west of the city of Celina last week, creating dust in the dry field.<br>
  Todd Mangen, Mercer County OSU Extension agent, said he has heard reports that crops in northern Mercer County are drying up, but other areas are doing OK. The rains that have hit the area have been spotty, resulting in various crop conditions.
  "It depends on the area," he said. "Sure we need more rain, and it would be nice to get some, but you really don't start to get into yield losses until you get into flowering and pollination."  
  Some corn in the county already has begun to tassel, and pollination should begin in a week or two, Mangen said. Some soybeans also have begun to flower, but they will continue to flower for a while. Tasseling and flowering are parts of the pollination process necessary for plants to produce soybeans and corn ears.
  With rain expected to start today from Hurricane Dennis' remnants, those crops in the county that are starting to suffer may get some relief, Mangen said. But Dale Mohler, senior meteorologist, said via a news release that "heartbreak and relief will be side by side," because the precipitation will vary widely.  The potential for rain from Dennis is a good thing, Mangen said, but it might also bring Asian soybean rust, a potentially devastating fungal disease, to the county. Soybean rust spores are carried on wind and/or storm fronts from one area to another.
  The disease, however, is manageable by using commercial fungicides.
  If some of the dryer areas in the county -- particularly near the unincorporated village of Mercer -- do not get any rain in the next week, the situation could get critical, Mangen said.
  The National Weather Service's drought monitor currently shows just the corner of northwest Ohio as in a moderate drought.
  Mangen said wheat yields in the county look "pretty decent," citing reports ranging between the mid 70s to 80 bushels per acre. The 10-year average for Mercer County is almost 89 bushels per acre, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture's statistics report. About 90 percent of the wheat has been harvested, he added.


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