The hot and dry weather conditions that have plagued our area won’t result in a total crop loss to farmers.
But Bruce Clevenger, Defiance County extension educator for the Ohio State University, said he expects farmers who have crop insurance will be filing some claims.
“For those who have a policy that compares their current yield and revenue against their history, there will be some claims.
“That’s why farmers buy insurance, for years like this one.”
Those who make claims won’t make money “hand over fist,” but will be able to cover their input costs such as seed, fertilizer, and fuel, and their family needs as well.
Clevenger said since June 19, Defiance County has been designated a severe drought area.
“That doesn’t extend to Fulton County, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been dry,” he said.
Western Henry County is included in the severe drought area.
During a corn plant’s early growth stages, the number of rows of kernels on each corncob is determined. A good crop will feature ears with 16 to 18 rows of kernels on each cob.
During a dry year that could be reduced to 14, “and hopefully, not 12,” Clevenger said.
The reduction in rows is due to the stress the plant is placed under by lack of moisture.
“Corn plants will curl their leaves. It’s closing down to conserve water. We’ve seen corn roll as early as 10:30 am, and remain that way until 7 or 8 o’clock at night.”
In dry soil, Clevenger said the growth of a corn plant’s roots will stop. Within three hours of rain, roots begin growing again.
“The corn plant knows what to do with the water when it gets it.”
Soybeans are also impacted by drought conditions, producing short bean plants.
Shorter bean plants mean fewer places on the stem for bean pods to form.
Alfalfa, Clevenger said, is a deep-rooted crop which can take advantage of moisture deeper in the ground, but it grows better with rain.
Alfalfa can be cut three to four times a year, and alfalfa mills throughout the area, including S-W Mills outside Archbold, process alfalfa into animal feed.
Yields, in terms of tons per acre, have shown a signifi cant impact from the drought conditions after the second cutting, he said.
Livestock– dairy and beef cattle, swine, chickens, etc.– housed in modern buildings are actually at an advantage over those outdoors.
Modern buildings with large fans are designed for maximized airflow.
There are backup generators to power those fans if utility service is interrupted.
With the fans running, the temperature inside the building can be lower than outdoors.
However, in hot weather, animals, like people, may not feel like eating.
When they eat less, dairy cows produce less milk, and other animals put on less weight. Both mean less money for farmers.
During the drought of 1988, there were reports of cracks in the ground 36 inches deep or more.
This year, “Farmers have already called in with cracks 19 to 28 inches deep. About 36 inches is the depth of our tile.
“Don’t drop your keys” down one of the cracks, he said.