Cold Weather Spring Planting Delays Typical in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – While cold weather and cool soil temperatures have made many Ohio corn fields unsuitable yet for spring planting, growers who haven’t begun planting shouldn’t worry because there’s still time to plant and expect good yields, said an agronomist with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

According to historical corn planting data for the past 15 years, less than 10 percent of Ohio corn has typically been planted by April 15, said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist. OSU Extension is the statewide outreach arm of the college.

Instead, an average of about 2 percent has typically been planted statewide by April 15, he said.

“Historically, the percentage of corn acreage planted was 10 percent or greater in only four of the past 15 years by April 20,” Thomison said. “And by April 25, it was 10 percent or greater in only seven of the past 15 years.”

Statewide, as of the week ending April 26, only 2 percent of corn was planted in Ohio, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. That compares to 3 percent that had been planted by the same time last year and 20 percent that had been planted on average during the same time period over the past five years, the agency said.

“Cool soil temperatures deterred corn planting, even where declining moisture surpluses allowed opportunities for fieldwork in Ohio,” according to the report. “Cold temperatures and frosts did little to alleviate the conditions that have delayed the season.”

There were 1.8 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending April 26, the report said.

“These types of starts are typical for Ohio growers,” Thomison said. “The data shows that even with a slow start, by May 10, some 60 percent of corn acreage is planted.

“Most growers have encountered years like this before. In early April, we caution growers to be aware of soil temperatures, while in early May, growers should focus more on the calendar versus soil temperatures. Historical averages tell us the soil temperatures will start warming up.”

Historically, the optimal time to get corn planted in southern Ohio is between April 10 and May 10 and in northern Ohio between April 15 and May 10. While growers who follow those planting dates generally see optimal yields, growers who don’t find optimal planting conditions may want to hold off, particularly if the forecast calls for continued wet weather, Thomison said.

Wet weather conditions caused planting delays for many growers in 2011, for example. However, many growers were still able to produce crops with good yields and, in some cases, better yields than average, Thomison said.

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Peter Thomison