Farmers hope December rains precede another strong year

After a too-wet 2011 and a too-dry 2012, the state’s growers saw the right rainfall at the right times for a big boost in corn production in 2013.
MCT Regional News
Jan 2, 2014

One of the wettest Decembers in the last half-century closed a just-right year for rain and production for the state’s agriculture industry.

After a too-wet 2011 and a too-dry 2012, the state’s growers saw the right rainfall at the right times for a big boost in corn production, experts said. That matched a national trend, which remained on pace for record corn yields throughout the year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that nearly 14 billion bushels of corn were produced in 2013, a record that is almost 30 percent more than last year, which widespread drought conditions diminished.

Production in Ohio also improved significantly. It’s estimated 631.6 million bushels of corn would be a 40 percent boost from 2012, according to USDA forecasts. In the 49 years from 1964-2012, Ohio’s corn production averaged 381.2 million bushels, or about 60 percent of the total forecast for this year.

“It was a very good year, especially for the corn crop,” said Joe Cornely, spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau. “We had a lot of high yields, and in some areas of the state there were record high yields.

“It was one of those years we got the right amount of precipitation at the right time.”

The state’s farmers had experienced extremes in the previous two years. In 2011, heavy spring rains propelled some parts of Ohio to an all-time annual rainfall record of 73.27 inches.

Then came the dry 2012. Parts of Ohio were in some form of drought for 41 consecutive weeks, from May 22, 2012, to March 5, 2013. That included a period from June through October when at least two-thirds of the state was in a constant state of some form of drought.

Much of the state did not fully pull itself from dry conditions until December 2012.

“Even in 2012 we had some later rains and some good crops,” said John Schlichter, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “Then we had a pretty good balance of timely rainfall this past year. I don’t think there was an overabundance at any one time, it was just a nice, steady pace.”

That pleased the growers, who said there’s no single cause of a strong season.

“Too much rain at one time is detrimental, so spaced-out moisture and precipitation over the whole growing season is what’s important,” said Brian Harbage, a South Charleston farmer. “You always remember your best years and your worst years, and this was a very good year.”

Even though December is outside the growing season, precipitation in any month is helpful for the farming industry, growers said. Farmers said it’s important to help the soil for the coming months by building up groundwater. That often is aided by snow freezing and the water seeping into the ground.

Or, in some cases, it’s in December rainfall, although the large amount that dropped on the region earlier this month was too much.

“At some point there was nowhere for it to go,” said Chad Kemp, a fifth-generation farmer in Preble and Darke counties. “Then it’s surface drainage that moves things around from one place to another, and eventually we have to get it back to the right place.”

The state’s farmers will now look forward to 2014 and hope for another helpful mix of rain and dry weather for more strong production. They say December’s precipitation has helped set up the soil for a solid start to the spring.

“We’re always cautiously optimistic,” Kemp said. “You want to have the best yields you can get, and looking at the moisture we’re getting now, we’re going into 2014 in pretty good shape.”

Ohio corn production (in bushels)

2013: 631,620,000

2012: 448,950,000

2011: 511,980,000

2010: 533,010,000

2009: 517,920,000

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Wettest Decembers

1. 1990 (10.04 inches)

2. 2011 (5.34)

3. 2008 (5.12)

4. 1951 (5.07)

5. 2013 (4.58)

Source: National Climatic Data Center

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By Kyle Nagel - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

WASP71

And they will make lots of money off 2013 then whine that they are broke next year if it's bad. Bankroll some of that extra cash boys!

JudgeMeNot

Waspy, Corn prices are down nearly half of what it was in 2012 which will result in some farmers barely breaking even. Others will be losing money. Not sure how someone bankrolls money when they don't have any.

WASP71

So the 3-5 years when corn was at record prices of almost $8 bushel compared to now where it is $4.50-$5 bushel they didn't bankroll any cash, didn't buy/lease more land to plant more corn which in turn will give more money- and yes- more profit? SO what you're saying is all these bumper years did nothing for their bottom line so they can bankroll the "little" extra they will have this year? And now that corn returns to prices they are used to- or should be- they will whine that they have no money and can't make payment on the new $500 grand combo? They get subsidies for everything. Drought-give them cash, don't want to plant a field this year? Give them cash for that also. Too wet? Money for lost crops.. Gov't bailouts just like all the rest. Another form of gov't welfare. Like I said- bankroll some money from your record crop and don't ask for a handout if the weather doesn't work out for ya.. Unless I can have my hand out too..

JudgeMeNot

Ethanol mandates from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 drove the price of corn up in previous years. Then you have to figure in the high tariffs on imported cane sugar which leads to corn subsidies for the production of High-fructose corn syrup. Then there are the ever increasing fertilizer prices. If farmers do make any money, that money will be used to buy more fertilizer.

Kingsin

WASP- never bite the hand which feeds you...

WASP71

I believe I just bit him...

KURTje

WASP is right. They get handouts for many items. Like many others I know, I produce much of my own food. It is much better quality too.