After a record-setting wet year, local farmers have struggled to stick to their usual planting and harvesting schedules.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that January through August set records for the wettest months in U.S. history.
Brian Koniglio of the National Weather Service in Wilmington told The Times-Gazette that this year has been the fifth wettest year on record for the Cincinnati area. Precipitation in this area so far this year, Koniglio said, has totaled 42.3 inches. The record is 48.02 inches, which was measured at the Cincinnati International Airport January through Sept. 8, 2011.
“The really wet part was up to about July,” Koniglio said. “It was really a wet spring and early summer. Now we’re kind of normal, so we’re not really noticing any effects from high water, flooding, or wet soil anymore.”
It may not be as rainy, but local farmers are still struggling. Nathan Brown, a Hillsboro farmer who manages 1,300 acres of corn and soybean fields, told The Times-Gazette that he and other farmers are still fighting the weather, just like they did last year.
“The third week of May is when we finally started catching some breaks, and we could get things planted,” Brown said. “There were people still planting soybeans clear up into the first week of July, and some even pushed even further than that to finish up or to replant.”
Cooler temperatures are also delaying crop growth, Brown said.
“We still need some more heat to get this crop finished out. We’re still a long way from having this crop in the bin, especially with the corn crop. It’s going to be another drawn out harvest,” Brown said. “I don’t expect to see a whole lot done probably pushing the second week of October. Usually [by] the last week of September or first week of October things get going pretty good around here. I would expect to still see guys harvesting corn in December.”
Brown said that hay production also suffered because of how wet it was this spring. During the first cutting, which was also a few weeks behind, Brown said that farmers were seeing low quality hay. He estimated that there won’t be as many cuttings this year.
Even though Brown estimated that this year’s crop yield will be, at worst, slightly below average, the wet year has certainly made things difficult for farmers. But with a long harvest season looming, Brown encouraged members of the community to be mindful of tractors and other farm equipment on the roads.
“As we move through harvest time and farmers begin to get out on the road, make sure you’re sharing the road and being courteous to those guys,” Brown said. “A lot of these farmers are putting in 16 to 18 hours a day, and being on the road is really the last thing we want to do.”
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.