The 1.7 inches of rain that fell Thursday, July 19, could be “a multimillion dollar rain” for farmers who have soybeans planted.
That’s what Chet Phillips, general manager of Gerald Grain, said Friday morning, July 20.
The Archbold wastewater treatment plant recorded 1.7 inches of rain between 7 am, Thursday and 7 am, Friday, July 20. Another one-tenth (.1) of an inch was recorded from 7 am Wednesday, July 18 to 7 am Thursday.
Other reports range from 1.5 to 2 inches.
Phillips said many soybean fields are in the flower stage, getting ready to produce bean pods. The moisture will help plants produce more pods.
“Soybeans still have reasonable potential,” said Glen Arnold, a field specialist with the Ohio State University Extension service.
For some fields, where the soybean plants never emerged from the soil, it’s too late; they won’t be ready in time for harvest.
But for others, where the soybean plants are six inches, eight inches, or even a foot tall, there is potential to rebound to below average, or perhaps even average, yields.
The keys now, Arnold said, are regular rainfalls through the remainder of July and into August.
For corn, this situation isn’t as bright.
“The rain won’t reverse the corn crop, but it will stabilize some of it,” Phillips said.
He estimated a third of the area corn crop was lost. For the remaining two thirds, the moisture might help form kernels.
He estimated corn yields in the 50- to 70-bushel per acre range, far down from the 170-200 bushels area farms have yielded in the past.
“At this point, the corn is already heavily damaged,” Arnold said. “Many fields won’t need to be harvested.”
But there are some options. Some farmers may cut and chop their damaged corn for silage. In that case, Arnold said rain will reduce the nitrate levels in the corn stalks, making better animal feed.
Other fields may be harvested, but yields will be down.
Phillips said the drought has had an impact on market prices for corn and soybeans. He reported prices for those grains had reached record highs.
Arnold said the Thursday rain was “extraordinarily helpful, but it would have been a lot more helpful six weeks ago.”
Phillips said, “rain is never too late.”–David Pugh