Rain delays planting for some local farmers

Even though many fields aren’t covered in standing water, the ground is still too wet to plant in many cases.
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The weather around here always seems to pose challenges for farmers, and the recent rounds of rain in many areas, are no exception. But there’s still plenty of optimism about this year’s harvest.

A lot of the fields around the region are not covered in standing water at this point. However, in many cases, the ground is still too wet to plant right now.

Jason Heerdegen is a farmer and the manager of the Ottawa Lake Co-Op. He says the rain is a concern, but only a minor setback for most farmers at this point.

“When it is cloudy and cool, the ground obviously doesn’t dry as fast. If we get some warmer temps and sun soon, the ground will dry out quickly. We can then get back to planting.”

It often comes down to location. Last week is a perfect example of the fact that just a few miles can make a real difference in the rain gauge. Some areas got a couple inches of rain, and places just a few miles away saw no precipitation.

While rain is a key component of picking the right time to plant, there’s another critical factor.

“The key for us is soil temperature. We need it to stay at 50 degrees or above to get the seed to germinate. The first 24-48 hours are critical after planting. We are watching the temperature more than anything.”

Heerdegen estimates about 25% of the corn crop in this area is already in the ground, and about 10% of the beans have been planted. He says this week and next are ideal times to plant, especially when it comes to corn and beans, but the window of opportunity will still be open for weeks.

“Weather always poses a lot of challenges for us. We deal with it and move on. It is not panic time yet by any means. We can get a lot of crop in the ground in a hurry.”

Planting as late as the end of the month can still produce a good yield.

“We can still get a good crop planting as late as Memorial Day. We’ve done it plenty of times before. It is not ideal to plant that late, but it is possible. We would then need an ideal summer, and an extended fall with no early frost.”

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