WYSO

Farmers Adjust To Above Average Rainfall

May 6, 2019

It's been a wet spring here in Southwest Ohio. April showers dropped above-average rainfall amounts, and more rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week. Drive along the county roads in this region and you can see a lot of muddy fields and standing water, and so we wanted to know: if you're a farmer, are you worried about too much rain?

In Greene County, the birds are singing, the chickens are clucking, and in the distance another storm is moving in. In this part of Ohio there has been above average rainfall for the past 6 months.

"We had a tough year last year, and a lot of farmers did, getting the crops harvested, we didn’t get finished up till actually early January," says Jim Spahr who farms near Jamestown. "Which is probably the latest I’ve run I suppose - And that’s carried over into spring. It’s wet, it’s been staying wet. We had a kind of a tough winter all the way through, so we didn’t make a lot of progress on things."

Inside Spahr’s barn, $70,000 dollars worth of corn and soybean seeds are stacked in bags on a flat-bed wagon, waiting to be planted, but Jim isn’t really worried that they aren’t in the ground yet.

"But this could change very quickly," he says. "I’ve seen it happen that it could look like we’re kind of desperate and it might take off be dry from here on and it may be perfect. We many be done planting by the 20th of May or something - because most of the farmers can get done real quick when it becomes time to do it, because you’ve got to get a lot done when the weather permits, we’re always struggling with the weather."

So for farmers, it’s just another Ohio spring with it’s unpredictable weather.

"We’re kind of used to this. I’ve done this quite a bit, and I probably shouldn’t tell how many years I’ve been doing this because it will give my age away, but I’ve been doing this since I was a child, so."

Spahr will be planting 800 acres of crops this year, a little less than what he’s done in in the past.

"We can plant corn clear up until the end of June," he says. "And have corn and soybeans clear to the first of July, but you’ll have more if you plant them early."

The later you plant, the later the harvest.

"You’ll have better crops if you get them planted early. There’s a lot of good things about planting early. The crops will yield better. They’ll be dryer in the fall. And you’ll spend less money trying to dry corn if you get it planted half way early."

Many farmers are using these rainy days to sell their harvests from last year.         

"We’re moving some grain on a regular basis, although prices aren’t very good. That’s been another issue, every since fall it hasn’t improved much at all it seems like. Prices are dead in the water," says Spahr.

For now, farmers are taking advantage of these rainy days to get equipment ready so that when the sun finally comes out, they’re ready to go.

"This is business as usual, it really is. Every year is a little unique. We’ve had plenty of wet years and lots of difficult weather, wet falls, and other times it’s perfect. You just never know. That’s just the way it is. If you’re going to farm you better get used to it I guess."

County Lines is made possible by a grant from Ohio Humanities.