Recent showers have brightened the outlook for crops in Medina County, say local and state agricultural experts.
But farmers say more rain is needed — a lot more.
“There has been some relief and recovery from the drought with recent rains,” said Rory Lewandowski, an agriculture educator with Ohio State University’s Extension Office in Wooster. “You’re hopeful when you see some rain and things greening up again.”
“U.S. Drought monitor” maps produced by the University of Nebraska show some improvement in Ohio.
The July 24 map showed that while the Ohio counties bordering Indiana were experiencing a severe drought, almost all of the rest of the state was seeing “moderate drought” conditions.
The latest map, released Tuesday, shows severe drought conditions only in the extreme southwest corner of the state. Much of the area that had been designated moderate drought has been upgraded to “abnormally dry” or no longer experiencing a drought.
In contrast, maps indicate the situation in the Corn Belt states west of Ohio has worsened in the past month.
“It’s still worse as you go west — in places like Illinois, Indiana and Missouri,” said John Fitzpatrick, director of the Medina County Farm Bureau.
Nationwide, this year’s drought is the most severe since 1988, officials have said.
Fitzpatrick said the recent rains have been scattered and haven’t helped the entire county equally.
“We’ve been blessed with some rain of late, but less in the southern portion of Medina County,” he said.
Medina County remains under a moderate drought, according to the Drought Monitor maps.
Fitzpatrick said local farmers aren’t likely to benefit financially because of the severe drought in the Corn Belt states.
“You’re going to see the price per bushel go up some, but with the yields down the return to the farmer generally will be the same,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said many county farmers are expecting a diminished corn and soybean crop this year.
“It’s getting too late for corn, and soybeans aren’t looking so good,” he said.
In a normal season, farmers would harvest 150 bushel of corn per acre. This year he estimated the yield at 100 to 110 bushels.
An acre of soybeans generally produces 35 to 40 bushels, he said. This year, farmers can expect only 20-25 bushels an acre.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Ohio Field Office, 53 percent of the state’s corn crop and 34 percent of the soybean crop is rated in poor or very poor condition.
Lewandowski agreed local farmers won’t benefit much from higher prices. He said the cost to raise crops is higher this year because of increased fuel costs.
Steve Arters, who grows field corn, soybeans and hay on nearly 1,200 acres in Chatham Township, said about an inch of rain last weekend and nearly half an inch over the past week have been helpful but not enough to end the drought.
“It’s gotten a little better, at least not worse,” said Arters, who’s been farming for 35 years on his family farm at 6007 Avon Lake Road. “We’re still in a pretty dry spot here.”
Arters noted his soybean crop has benefited most from recent rain. However, hay and corn remain in jeopardy.
“Corn won’t get much help at this point,” he said. “Silage is being chopped a month early this year. The leaves are just too dry.”
A fourth cutting of hay during a normal rainfall season is not likely this year, said Arters, adding that his third cutting of hay will only net about 15 bales an acre. The first cut yields up to 100 bales of hay.
“Time is just running out, and you usually don’t cut after mid-September,” he said.
Scott Gregorie, owner of Medina Sod Farms Inc., in Westfield Township, said he had to purchase 284,000 gallons of water from the city of Medina to irrigate during a one-week period earlier this summer.
“We use a pretty absorbent amount of water when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate,” he said.
So far, 10 Ohio counties — all in the western part of the state — have been designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as primary natural disaster areas because of drought and heat, making them eligible for federal assistance. They are Butler, Defiance, Fulton, Hamilton, Henry, Paulding, Preble, Putnam, Van Wert and Williams counties.
Eleven bordering counties have been designated “contiguous disaster” counties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Steve Grazier at (330) 721-4012 or email@example.com.
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