Warm weather has moved up the corn-planting season for some farmers, but it appears most in the area waited to put in their crop.
Despite the late April freeze in much of the state, the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association predicts a record year for the crop based on prices and earlier than normal warm weather.
Locally, some of the larger growers planted corn early, said Wayne Greier, owner of Greier Ag Center Inc. near Canfield. He also farms 800 to 900 acres.
Statewide, April 20 is the typical day to begin planting corn this year, according to the growers association.
The warm weather allowed much of the state to start earlier, but cold winds and rain delayed planting for many in Northeast Ohio, Greier said.
Also, a seed-corn shortage worried local farmers that if they planted too early, they would not be able to get seeds to replant if a freeze struck, he said.
Nitrogen prices are also high, so many local farmers avoided risk by waiting to plant. The cost of nitrogen, a fertilizer, would increase if farmers had to replant.
“A lot of guys up here plant based on the temperature of Lake Erie because it correlates pretty well to the ground temperature,” Greier said. “The temperature at the lake just went over 50 to 51 degrees recently, which is where guys want to plant.”
The soil is still a little dry. A little rain would help the corn that has already been planted, he said.
“There will be a huge volume of corn in the ground regardless of differing planting time frames,” said Tadd Nicholson, the OCWGA executive director.
“Thousands of wheat acres didn’t get planted as intended because of the wet fall, and many acres will be used for corn instead. Some wheat acres that did get planted were damaged during the mild, wet winter, which caused many farmers to convert these acres to corn to utilize existing fertilizer inputs.”
If projected acres are realized, there will be a 4 million-acre increase from 2011 nationally, according to the association. In Ohio, there are 3.8 million acres of corn expected to be planted, which is a 12 percent increase from 2011.
If the weather had not gotten cold again after the 80-degree days that occurred in April, corn would already be starting to sprout, said Mike Hogan, a field-crop specialist for the Ohio State Agricultural Extension Service in Jefferson County. Hogan assists farmers in Columbiana County.
A lot of farmers throughout the state have begun planting earlier than normal, he said.
“I’m not personally a big proponent of planting early,” Hogan said. “Typically, corn planted at the more traditional time of the year will catch up or nearly catch up by the end of the season. The risk doesn’t outweigh the benefits. When you plant early, you run the risk of a last frost that might damage the plants.”
This year’s cold weather in late April was not enough to damage corn plants, but it was enough to slow growth, he said.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of April 29, 57 percent of Ohio’s corn crop had been planted.