It's 'Sink or Swim' Week for Ohio's Corn Growers

June 1, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Drier weather in the past few days has Ohio's farmers itching to get in their fields to get corn planted.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, only 19 percent of Ohio's corn crop was planted as of Sunday, May 29. Normally, 93 percent of the crop is planted at this point. Indiana was in a better situation with 59 percent of corn planted as of Sunday, compared with an 87 percent average over the past five years.

"Luckily, the weather does seem to be turning," said Greg LaBarge, agriculture and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension.

"The rain we were worried about Tuesday night missed Ohio, but a lot of folks still will need another few days to dry out to start planting. As soon as they can get in, they'll be running nearly 24 hours a day to try to get the corn in."

For every day that planting is delayed in late May and early June, corn growers can anticipate a loss in yield of up to two bushels per acre. "But that really depends on what happens later in the summer," LaBarge said. "We've had some years when we've had minimal losses due to late planting; other years, it's been worse."

This is a critical week for farmers in another way. Sunday, June 5, is the first date corn growers qualify for a prevented planting crop insurance payment. Crop insurance doesn't cover all losses, but it may make sense economically to take the payment instead of risking lower yields due to late-planted corn crop or switching to soybeans.

"It's an economic decision, and there's no one answer that fits everyone," LaBarge said. "We encourage everyone to talk with their insurance representative and put pencil to paper before making a decision."

Ohio State University Extension specialists have developed a spreadsheet, based on a similar tool from the University of Illinois, that can help farmers make a decision.

The "Estimated Yield and Profit by Planting Date -- Corn, Soybeans or Preventative Planting Crop Insurance" decision aid can be downloaded free at

The aid allows farmers to plug in their variable costs, such as seed, fertilizer, trucking, fuel, repairs, drying costs and the like. They can use the standard yield projections or adjust them to what they feel their farm could produce this year. The bottom line -– expected revenue given the estimates provided -- adjusts so farmers can easily compare what they might expect whether they decide to plant corn or soybeans or decide to take the preventive planting insurance payment.

"It's an excellent tool to use," LaBarge said. "It can help you determine what makes the most sense for your individual situation." Other agronomic and crop insurance decision information on the late 2011 planting season can be found at under "2011 Late Planting Resources."

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.


Martha Filipic
Greg LaBarge