Thursday, July 15, 2004

Some corn lost to rain

Most of Ohio is spared

By John Seewer
The Associated Press

Despite a rosy outlook for Ohio's corn crop, there are pockets around the state where rain washed away any hope for a decent season.

Farmers in the northeast and north-central parts of the state have been hurt the most. Heavy rains forced some farmers to replant their corn three or four times while the wet weather kept others from finishing planting.

"Some corn was planted just a week ago," said Bill Wallbrown, who farms in southeastern Portage County. "That was the first time it got dry.

"Most everything we planted was done in less than ideal conditions," said Wallbrown, who intended to plant 1,600 acres of corn but only got in 1,050 acres.

Most of the state, including the farmbelt in northwest Ohio, is in much better shape, said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist.

Warm temperatures and plenty of moisture have helped Ohio's corn crop develop two weeks ahead of normal, Thomison said. More than 60 percent of the crop is in good to excellent condition.

It's still early, though, and a long, dry spell with warm temperatures could hurt the corn crop, especially since the early wet weather did not allow maximum root development, Thomison said.

"This year, it was so wet the root systems may be too shallow," he said.

Nationwide, the U.S. Agriculture Department forecasts that farmers could produce a record corn crop of 10.6 billion bushels. Ohio farmers harvested nearly 479 million bushels of corn a year ago.

Butler, Warren, Clermont and Hamilton counties had more than 61,000 acres of corn used for grain under crop in 2002, the latest figures available from the USDA. But none of Greater Cincinnati's counties is among top corn producers in the state.

The key to this year's corn crop in Ohio seems to be timing.

"Corn planted in April looks wonderful," said Portage County extension agent Kevin O'Reilly. "Corn planted in May and June looks terrible." He described this year's crop as the "good, bad and ugly."

Many farmers in north-central Ohio were even worse off.

In Marion County, at least half of the farmers were unable to get their corn in the ground or had it washed away and were forced to replant, said Bill Hudson, the agriculture agent with county's extension office. What's left is a lot of corn that is behind in terms of growth.

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