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Wet weather has caused Ohio corn farmers to fall behind schedule with planting

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-11 19:54:36-04

PENINSULA, Ohio — Monday may have brought an earthquake to Northeast Ohio, but Tuesday brought something seemingly as rare, a dry sunny day. It's what Ohio farmers would like to see a string of as they look to play catch up on the spring planting season.

As of last week the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture estimated that only a third of Ohio cornfields had been planted and while numbers released Monday showed that now up to half it's still behind the 96% that it was at this point last year.

"It's been very trying," said Paula Szalay of Szalay's Sweet Corn Farm & Market in Peninsula. "We've had to do a lot of what I call patchwork farming," she said. "Say we need to get four acres of corn in to keep the succession of corn going so we might find two acres of dry soil in this field and then we might have to go to another field and find another two acres."

Szalay's staggers planting among the roughly 200 acres they plant so they have a steady stream of product coming into their market and into the local grocery stores they supply. This year's wet weather has added an extra wrinkle.

"Each morning we check our fields, try to find some dry soil, disc it up in the morning and wait for this beautiful sun to come out, dry it up and maybe plant it after lunch," she said.

The USDA's average is for the state as a whole but some regions have been hit harder than others. So while Cleveland Hopkins Airport has reported 10.5" of rain since April 1, Van Wert in Northwest Ohio has reported 18."

"We've caught maybe the tail end of everything so we've been very blessed," Szalay said. "You know we got about a half inch yesterday like everybody else but we could have had more, a friend of ours had almost five inches."

Szalay's opened up their market for the season last week and they'll remain open through Oct. 31 when people will be coming to try their hand at an annual tradition here their three acre corn maze which Szalay said they were able to get planted last weekend.

"That was big," Szalay said. "To get all three acres dry at the same time was like OK today's the day, let's hit it."