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Rainfall feast or famine in Ohio
The old adage “rain makes grain” could use a revision this year… at least in Ohio. It should read “properly timed rain, distributed uniformly throughout the growing season, makes grain.”
An abundance of moisture this past spring stalled planting by several days to several weeks. Conditions later improved and crop development pushed ahead in Ohio, but then it turned very dry in early July.
Signs of this year’s challenging weather are evident throughtout the state.
Corn cobs are undersized and kernels are smaller than desired. Agronomists on the tour think abundant moisture this spring did not challenge corn plants to set deep roots and now that conditions are drier, the moisture they need is out of reach.
Soybean plants could be waist-high in one spot of a field and barely reaching the knee just a few paces away. Areas drowned out by excessive moisture this spring are now dusty and dry, with cracks so wide you could twist an ankle.
“If this area is not considered to be under drought, it should be,” said Mark Bernard, a crop consultant with the eastern leg of the tour.
According to the latest U.S. Agriculture Department’s drought monitor map, the region is not even considered abnormally dry, although more recent USDA data has shown a steep decline in soil moisture ratings.
As of Sunday, Ohio topsoil moisture was rated 65 percent short to very short, compared with 43 percent a week earlier.
The area’s soybeans, which are currently setting and filling pods, could benefit from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay which is approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast. Corn could also use some moisture to boost grain size, but some corn plants are already shutting down.
Forecasters say the precipitation could arrive in Ohio by this weekend.