Hot Parched Summer
Ohio still feeling effects of drought after the rains
It was the last thing farmers in Ohio — or the nation for that matter — needed this year.
We are awash in a hot, parched summer.
More than half of the United States is feeling some level of drought. And it is hitting home right here in Ohio.
During the last week in July, however, many parts of Ohio did get that much-needed relief in the form of heavy rains. But will it be enough now to salvage the crop?
“The drought is really hurting us,” Highland County farmer Jim Faust told me early last week. When I decided to write this column about the dry, rainless season we are having, I wanted to get the word right from Ohio farmers, so I talked to the farmers most affected by this bone-dry summer — corn and soybean growers.
Faust is normally a corn grower — but not this year. This year he is growing soybeans on his 250 acres. Despite the problems this region of Ohio is having, the local farmer was typically optimistic. He said it appears other states such as Indiana and states west are having a worse drought than “we are having here in Ohio, and I guess for that we can be grateful.”
The weekend before we spoke, his farm about 11 miles southwest of Hillsboro received a small rain, about half an inch. “It did perk my beans up, I could see it,” but he added that southern Ohio needs a “lot more water. We really need rain.”
He said he and fellow farmers need at least two to three inches of rain that week, and thereafter.
The prospects? He said it all will depend on the next few weeks.
“Some of the corn is right on the edge of being too far gone. This hot weather has been hard on pollination,” Faust pointed out. And that means the crops are suffering.
At the recent Fayette County Fair, farmers gathered and talked about their predicament. Some were pessimistic, saying that corn crops would not recover. I overheard one say emphatically, “The corn is done.” He backed it up by pointing out that the main pollination time was during the recent sizzling hot weather the week of the Fourth of July.
But I found it interesting that others gave a differing view, they said that much of the corn crop — along with the crops for other produce such as soybeans — would be OK… if we get rain.
And that is a very big “if.” On the Wednesday of the Fayette County Fair, July 18, there was a good rain, but forecasters were predicting that would be the only day of rain for almost a week.
When I talked to Adams County farmer Roger Rhonemus, who is also an Adams County Commissioner, last Wednesday, he was all smiles.
“It’s raining here at the Fairgrounds,” he said. Even without the showers, Rhonemus was an optimist about the corn crop this year.
He said the pollination in his part of the state looks to be about 75 to 90 percent, “it looks good from the ears of corn I have checked.” He said that considering the lack of rain, he is grateful for the pollination of the ears.
Rhonemus, along with his two sons, grows about 700 acres of corn. “That’s a bit more than it being a hobby,” he joked. He said that going forward, “we will need the moisture.” He said the rainfall coming up will decide if “we will be shelling corn or popcorn.”
In Adams County, like much of the state, the rainfall in June and July was way under normal. But Rhonemus says conditions so far are still better than the last major drought in 1988.
He spoke aloud a feeling that many farmers in Ohio share today. He said that while he has crop insurance, “I would much rather grow corn than collect insurance.”
I think all farmers feel that way.