WAPAKONETA — While the memories of stunted corn stalks poking up through standing water last year may still be fresh in the minds of area farmers, the water situation in Ohio is very different this year, with 70 percent of the state either abnormally dry or facing moderate drought.
Jeff Stachler is the agriculture and natural resource extension educator for the OSU Auglaize County Extension Office, and as he has been going through the county inspecting corn and soy crops, he has seen the high temperatures and lack of moisture begin to take its toll.
“It’s going to have a pretty large impact,” he said. “The question is how large of an impact it will be. There are parts of our area that are extremely dry, especially the Wapakoneta area and south. The northern end of the county is a little better than the south.”
However, relief could be on the way, according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
“I think there’s a front coming in [this weekend] that will get some help from the Gulf of Mexico, because there is some tropical moisture that’s lingering down there that will rise up along the front,” he said. “Also, the front will slow down coming through the Ohio Valley. It will slow down, and that sits right on top of you guys, especially later Saturday into Sunday.”
That relief would be very welcome for farmers. Stachler found some areas in southern Auglaize County that currently project to yield as little as 53 bushels of corn per acre, barely a third of the five-year average. Soybeans in those areas are projecting barely over half of its average yields, he also said.
“I think we’re going to be, in the south of Wapakoneta, below 100 bushels of corn, most likely, and likely less than 30 bushels an acre with soybeans,” he said.
Dryer conditions can also lead to increased fire risks, both in fields and in structures. According to Delphos Fire Chief Kevin Sheets, there have not been a larger number of fires in his area this year, but the ones that have started have become more difficult to extinguish.
“In these conditions, the fire moves quicker and is a lot more intense,” he said.
With other areas in the Corn Belt, such as Nebraska, doing very well with their corn crops this year, according to Stachler, growers in this area face a “double whammy,” with lower yields coupled with lower values of corn and soy, thanks to still abundant supply.
“Some substantial rain would help sustain what we have, not really make things better,” he said. “But at least it wouldn’t get worse.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.