July 31, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
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Farmers optimistic about this year’s corn harvest

The song in the musical, “Oklahoma,” boasts of corn “as high as an elephant’s eye.”

If that’s the measure of a good crop, Medina County’s farmers will need bigger elephants this year.

Corn stalks near the start of the Beriswill Farm corn maze tower over Kathy Katakos and Alex Kastor, both of Liverpool Township. Both women work at the family-owned farm, 2200 Station Road, Liverpool Township, which invites the public to tour the maze. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

National reports and local experts both agree 2013 will bring a better harvest than in recent years.

“The state is hoping for a very good harvest,” said John Fitzpatrick of the Medina County Farm Bureau. “The rain that came earlier, at least in this area, was good and resulted in a lot of larger crops.”

Estimates released Thursday by the United States Department of Agriculture says this season’s corn production is forecast at a U.S. record 13.8 billion bushels — 80 million bushels higher than last year.

The report predicts large yields will keep prices paid farmers low. The season-average farm price for corn has ranged between $4.40 and $5.20 per bushel.

Fitzpatrick said corn prices last year went as high as $7 per bushel.

But Fitzpatrick speculated that less-than-ideal weather in the Midwest corn-belt might push prices higher by harvest time.

“I would guess with weather conditions being what they are west of us, the prices will stay very close to what they were last year,” he said.

Others are optimistic as well.

“It looks like it’s going to be pretty good, even with all the rain we had,” said Steve Arters, of Arters Farm in Chatham Township.

Arters said early rain helped his corn grow while recent heat has helped the ears fill out.

Barring unusual weather, he expects to have a high yield of high-quality corn.

“It’s going to mature fine and it’s catching up real fast. It still needs to be that way until October first, though. We can’t have any freezing,” he said.

But Carol Beriswill, of Beriswill Farms in Liverpool Township, is more cautious.

Her corn maze is a local fall attraction and in many spots has grown to near 10 feet tall. But heavy rain has made other patches small and sparse.

“Even in the same field there’s going to be some difference. I’m hopeful, but I’m not sure I can say for certain,” she said. “The height isn’t the indicator as much as some corn that’s still small and yellow.”

Beriswill said heavy rain early in the season damaged her pumpkin crop. The downpours in May and June preventing timely planting and flooded much of what was planted, causing many pumpkins to rot from excessive moisture.

Ashley Kulhanek, an agriculture and natural resources educator at the Ohio State University Extension in Medina County, said the wet spring and early summer did cause problems.

“The yield is yet to be determined because we had a lot of late planting,” Kulhanek said. “Some areas will have some really good crops, some will be bad. And we have more disease from moisture than is usual.”

But Kulhanke said that despite extra blight and mildew in some spots, fruit and vegetable crops have had a good year overall.

Bill Richardson of Richardson Farms in Lafayette Township said his tomato plants hit 10 feet and his peppers are over 6 feet.

The fruit harvest also looks exceptional, Richardson said.

“Fruit’s the best it’s been in years,” he said. “Last year was a disaster for the vines.”

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.