No occupation is more weather dependent than farming, and this year’s seemingly non-stop rain is taking its toll on farmers throughout Geauga County.
“We don’t want it to completely stop raining, but enough is enough,” Les Ober, with the Ohio State Extension Office in Burton, said last week.
And it keeps coming. Mr. Ober said just in the last week parts of Geauga saw rainfall of 2.25 to 3 inches of rain. He said farms have essentially been shut down from the middle of May through June because of the constant rain. “It is very, very unusual,” he said.
Some farmers, especially those in the dairy business, he said, have found themselves in a “dire” situation as their soaked fields keep them from getting feed corn in the ground. The corn planting is needed to ensure the cows have sufficient feed during the winter months, he explained.
Soybean plantings are also seeing a tough go this year, Mr. Ober said, as the wet weather is not conducive for the crop.
And for those who enjoy locally grown sweet corn, they may be waiting a little longer to enjoy it. Mr. Ober said it may be as late as September before buyers see the first crop.
Most of the vegetables at farmer’s markets will be coming a little later this year with the wet conditions, he said. But, he said, tomatoes grown in greenhouses rather than fields should provide a good crop.
“It’s not just a question of what is planted, but is it going to make it,” he said. “We won’t know until this pattern completely shuts down.”
The horse farms around the county also are seeing the effects, Mr. Ober said.
Finding hay for those horses is proving challenging this year as the fields are proving too wet to harvest, he said.
Finding good quality hay is going to be a challenge, he said, and farmers need to be cautious of what they buy. He said any hay that is harvested could be wet and that will cause it to spoil, he said. Neighboring states that could supply it are not much better off than Ohio when it comes to finding dry weather.
“It likely won’t be harvested until July. The whole of June is gone because they couldn’t get on it. The hay that was harvested has sat on the ground and is likely lost. You have to be very careful what you’re buying. Some could be taking short cuts that could be detrimental to the product.
Storing the wet hay can also have consequences. Wet hay stored in barns, he said, could spontaneously combust, giving farmers another thing to worry about.
He said getting relief may be coming from Columbus with a disaster declaration from Gov. Mike DeWine. The governor’s declaration for disaster relief is the first step and eliminates the need for individual farmers to file.
Farmers also are debating whether to file for relief through their crop insurance, he said. Because there is a cut-off date for filing, farmers will be weighing whether that is the next option.
Until last week, Mr. Ober said, it appeared the south end of the county was faring better than the northern part. But last week’s rains put the southern part in the same predicament as the north.
Ironically, Mr. Ober said, the last time Geauga farmers were in such a dire situation was nearly 30 years ago and it wasn’t because of rain, but a lack of it. In 1988, he said, farmers were contending with a drought.
Still, Mr. Ober said, things tend to even out.
“We had three bumper crop years in a row with grain and now we got a bad one,” he said.
He said the country’s farmers have been up to the challenges before and have always been able to provide.
“We’ve got an abundant food supply in this country and we should be grateful,” Mr. Ober said.