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Delayed harvest worries farmers



Published: Mon, October 30, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



COLUMBUS (AP) -- Rain has put Ohio's harvest behind schedule, and it's also threatening to make the corn and soybean crop smaller this year.

The wet fall is "shaping up to be a problem for us," said Peter Thomison, an agronomist specializing in corn with Ohio State University Extension.

Only 18 percent of the state's corn crop had been harvested as of last week -- a time when 40 percent is usually finished, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybeans are also behind. About half of the soybean crop has been finished compared with 75 percent in most years.

Farmers don't want to take their heavy combines in the wet fields because the equipment could compact the soil or get damaged, said Jim Ramey, director of Ohio's statistics service office.

Rainfall has been above average across much of the state, said Don Hughes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.

Columbus, for example, has received 5.6 inches more than average since the beginning of September. Dayton has had 4.7 inches and Cincinnati was at 3.6 inches.

Less than two months ago, nearly all of the state's soybean and corn crop was in fair to excellent condition.

Ohio's corn yield was predicted to be 160 bushels per acre, above the state record of 158 in 2004.

Now the delay in harvesting could change that.

It's possible to have wet fields and good yields, Thomison said. But the harvest can become more costly and increase fuel costs.

Soybeans are at a more critical point, Ramey said.

Some soybean pods are splitting and the beans are dropping out. More delays could make the harvest less profitable, he said. It's too early to say how much has been lost, Ramey said.




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