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Published: Tuesday, 7/28/2009

Toledo area farmers say rain was silver dollars from heaven

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

FINDLAY - Gary Wilson said the rainstorms that rolled through northwest Ohio over the weekend might have been an annoyance for some people, but for farmers, it was like silver dollars falling from heaven.

"That wasn't a million-dollar rain. It was a multimillion-dollar rain," said Mr. Wilson, the area leader for the Ohio State University Extension Office in charge of 10 counties in northwest Ohio. "We probably added 25 bushels per acre just last week."

Just a week ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had designated a wide swath of central Ohio as suffering from "abnormally dry," predrought conditions. Almost 40 percent of Ohio - including all of Putnam, Allen, Hancock, and Seneca counties, and portions of Wood, Henry, Defiance, Paulding, and Van Wert counties - were getting desperate for rain, the agency said.

"It's been very, very dry [in northwest Ohio], but things have really changed," said Mr. Wilson. "We still have a tremendous need for moisture right now, and as I tell people, you're never really more than two weeks away from a drought."

For example, July rainfall at the Findlay Airport was 1.97 inches through yesterday, almost 50 percent lower than the average of 3.86 inches of precipitation for the same portion of the month. In Putnam County, rainfall in Ottawa was just 1.67 inches through yesterday, more than 2.5 inches below the average of 4.26 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

"Precipitation has been a little bit light this summer," said Jeffrey Rogers of Ohio State University, who is the state climatologist. "From an agriculture perspective, the dry weather might be affecting corn and soybeans, but not like the drought that's occurring in northern Wisconsin, for example."

Indeed, other portions of the nation are extremely dry. A large part of southeast Texas is experiencing a record drought, with corn withering and dying in farmers' fields.

But last weekend's spotty showers in northwest Ohio during one of the most important points in the yearly grain growing cycle - pollination - along with continued cool weather could indicate decent yields for farmers.

"I think right now, we're in good shape," said Steve Inbody, a farmer in southern Hancock County. "Next week at this time, I could tell you we need some rain. But I think so far, everybody's kind of smiling."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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