COLUMBUS, Ohio - Despite the wet conditions that have affected many Ohio corn fields so far this season, growers who haven't started planting shouldn't be concerned yet, says an agronomist with Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
According to corn planting data for the past 15 years, less than 10 percent of Ohio corn has typically been planted by April 15. In fact, historical planting data shows that an average of just about 2 percent of corn has normally been planted statewide by that date.
As of the week ending April 13, there had been no appreciable acreage of corn planted in Ohio, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. That compares with 1 percent that had been planted by the same time last year and 2 percent that had been planted on average during the same time period over the past five years, the agency said.
"I'm really not surprised that we're not seeing more corn planted," said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist. OSU Extension is the statewide outreach arm of the college. "We've had a wet April so far but in previous planting seasons we've experienced wet Aprils with conditions then turning warmer and dry and growers able to get planting done normally.
"This early rain pattern is not at all unusual. Conditions could be better, but there really is no need for concern yet."
There were 0.9 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending April 13, the federal agriculture agency said.
"While warmer temperatures dried the soil some, it was still too wet for most producers to do any field work," it said in a statement. "Some areas are still flooded from snowmelt and rain."
Historically, the optimal time to get corn planted in southern Ohio is between April 10 and May 10 and in northern Ohio between April 15 and May 10. While growers who follow those planting dates generally see optimal yields, growers who don't find optimal planting conditions may want to hold off, particularly if the forecast calls for continued wet weather, Thomison said.
"We encourage planting at the recommended times because this is historically when you get the best yields," Thomison said. "Planting later than these times historically has resulted in yield loss, in some cases a 30-bushel-per-acre reduction in yield.
"Growers historically could see a yield loss of a bushel to a bushel and a half for each late planted day. But if the conditions aren't right, growers don't need to rush in and mud their corn just for the sake of planting early."
Over the past 15 years, data shows that in most years, even those with slow starts due to persistent cold weather in April, 60 percent or more of corn acres were planted by May 10, which is within the optimal planting date window.
Wet weather conditions caused planting delays for many growers in 2011. However, many growers were still able to produce crops with good yields and, in some cases, better yields than average, Thomison said.
But the generic recommendations are that if growers have fields that have good soil conditions, are dry, well drained and suitable for planting, with warming temperatures over the first couple of weeks of April, growers can start planting within the recommended dates, he said.