COLUMBUS, Ohio — Though some of Ohio’s corn and soybean farmers may be pessimistic about this year’s yield, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not.
Despite the excessive rain that fell in Ohio and the necessary replanting for many, sometimes multiple times, the USDA has a reasonably sunny prediction for Ohio’s average yield on corn, soybeans and wheat.
Ohio’s corn yields this year will be 7.5 percent higher than last year’s total at 171 bushels per acre compared to last year’s 159-bushel-per-acre state average, according to the USDA’s annual crop yield forecast released Aug. 10.
Though the USDA estimates that Ohio’s soybean yields will drop by nearly 3 percent this year (from 54.5 bushels per acre to 53 bushels per acre), that’s better than the 5 percent national average decline predicted for soybeans.
Ohio’s expected yield on winter wheat is forecasted to decrease by 3 bushels this year from 80 bushels per acre to 77 bushels per acre – a nearly 4 percent drop. But that beats the nearly 10 percent bushel decline expected on the national average for wheat.
Heavy rain throughout the growing season in much of Ohio has created difficult conditions for growing many crops. Some farmers have planted and replanted, sometimes twice, because seeds were washed away in rain, muddied soils crusted over preventing plants from emerging or standing water either stunted, killed off plants or caused disease.
“For the year we’ve had, the yield estimates are a bit optimistic,” said Harold Watters, an Ohio State University Extension agronomy field specialist and coordinator of the university’s Agronomic Crops Team. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
Some growers planted soybeans as late as mid-June – well past the recommended planting period of April 20 to May 10, Watters said.
“I saw some people planting soybeans for the first time on June 15,” he said.
The rain and slower growth in corn and soybeans has given way to more weeds this year, Watters said.
Despite this year’s challenges, if August and September continue to offer some rain, the soybean crop in Ohio should turn out okay, said Laura Lindsey, an OSU Extension soybean and small grains specialist.
Good rainfall throughout the season is important, Lindsey said. Too much rain early on in the season can hinder a soybean crop, but the crop could also struggle if there’s too little rain in August and September.
“A lot of times the challenge in August is that things dry out,” she said.
Rainfall in August and September will increase the bean size, she pointed out.
Lindsey is “cautiously optimistic” about this year’s soybean crop because even in really challenging years, the soybean yield in Ohio doesn’t generally shift by any more than 2 bushels per acre, she said.
That’s because soybeans can pollinate over a 35-day period and can compensate for short periods of stress. However, corn pollinates over approximately 10 days so if there’s unfavorable weather conditions during those 10 days, yield will likely be reduced.
In wheat fields throughout Ohio, farmers are generally pleased.
The wheat crop this year is very good in part because May and June were unseasonably cool, which favors the growth of wheat, Watters said. Unlike corn and soybeans that are planted in the late spring or summer, wheat is planted at the end of September and harvested in June and early July.
For Ohio’s wheat crop, “the rain wasn’t as horrible as we had thought,” Watters said.