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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Wet Soils Delaying Ohio Corn Planting

May 9, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio is already facing corn-planting delays, but growers have time to get their crop in the ground and walk away with potentially decent yields.

According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, about 30 percent of the corn crop has been planted so far, only slightly behind last year, but nearly 30 percent behind the five-year average.

Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said the delays are being attributed to cool temperatures and moist soils. Northern and northwest counties are facing the wettest soil conditions. Less than 5 percent of the corn in some of these counties has been planted.

"In some areas, virtually all of the crop is planted and in other areas, that have heavy clay soils for instance, almost none of the corn is planted yet," said Thomison, who also holds an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center appointment. "But it's premature to panic. From our research, a grower can still get good yields up until about May 25, and sometimes even into June. If we can get the corn in the ground by May 15, it'll be hard to perceive major differences in yield from corn planted on April 30."

The issue facing growers regarding the planting delays is the challenge of juggling field work among corn planting, soybean planting, herbicide and fertilizer applications, and planting preparations, said Thomison.

"The problem right now is logistics, juggling operations in different fields," said Thomison. "Regardless, we recommend growers focus on getting the corn crop established as soon as the fields are ready."

Although agronomists are concerned about planting delays, the weather forecast of what Ohio could be facing this summer has them even more on edge. According to the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report, the outlook for June and July is calling for above average temperatures and below-average rainfall. The projected weather pattern is being driven by a Pacific Ocean La Niña.

"It's a recipe that we don't like. Planting into wet, cool soils in the spring tends to limit the root system. And if we have a change over to hot, dry conditions, the corn crop will survive but the weather is going to impact yields," said Thomison.

NOAA research shows that trend line adjusted corn crop yields are below average in La Niña years, with more likely average or above-average yields for soybeans.

According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, soybean planting is also behind schedule. Only 8 percent of the crop has been planted compared to 11 percent last year and 26 percent over the five-year average.

For more information on field crop developments, log on to OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Web site at

Candace Pollock
Peter Thomison