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Published: Saturday, 10/24/2009

Weather dampens harvest; wet fields delay soybean, corn work, wheat planting

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Farmers across northwest Ohio are staring at bumper corn and soybean crops, but wet and cool weather has delayed their ability to harvest the bounty and get winter wheat crops into the ground, state agriculture officials say.

Now, federal officials are warning farmers with federal crop insurance that they have until Nov. 4 to file a required notice if the delayed harvest has kept them from planting their winter wheat crop.

"It's shaping up to be a very slow corn harvest," explained Peter Thomison, an extension specialist with Ohio State University's Agricultural Extension Office in Columbus. "The crop right now is looking extremely good, but farmers are trying to get as much drying as they can while the corn is still in the fields, and the weather's not cooperating too much."

The most recent estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture put the nationwide corn harvest this fall at 13 billion bushels, up 8 percent from 2008 and the second-highest harvest on record, behind only 2007.

The USDA's most recent corn estimates for Ohio place this year's harvest at 166 bushels per acre, which would be 23 percent higher than last year's 135 bushels per acre. Some areas of the state had near-perfect growing conditions all year, and are reporting yields in excess of 200 bushels per acre.

Mr. Thomison said that even though farmers are likely to be blessed with large harvests, it will be more expensive to bring their crop to market because farmers likely will have to pay to have their grain mechanically dried.

Jim Beuerlein, an extension office expert on small grains, estimates the soybean harvest is only 35 or 40 percent completed, and the average yield will be within a historical average of 45 to 48 bushels per acre.

"We're at least two weeks behind, and I don't know where we're going to end up with [winter wheat planting]," Mr. Beuerlein said. Winter wheat generally is planted in fields from which soybeans have been harvested.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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