By Matt Reese
It was a wet harvest season in northwest Ohio.
Bob Short works in Williams County in the northwest corner of the state, with some fields where the 2021 crop will transition into 2022.
“This year’s growing season has been a challenge at best. It seems like we were wet in the spring, then we were dry and now we have been wet all autumn, ”said Short. “The harvest was an extreme challenge. There are still many plants in the field. The guys with the intention of growing wheat, a lot of it didn’t happen because it was just too wet after the beans were gone. “
The conditions also made it very difficult to grow catch crops. Jeff Duling farms in Putnam County. By the time his harvest was finished, it was too late for many fields to cover crops. In mid-December the fields were still wet.
“Given the rain events we’ve had in northwest Ohio, I still have grain rye in our air seeder and hope it will be planted. I have never grown grain this late. In the middle of September we had a 5 inch rain. In short, you don’t want to go out and mess up your fields. We have the soil structure out there so we waited and waited to remove soybeans and grow wheat. It just didn’t fit. We kept getting small rains. They nagged. I call them mosquito rains because they just annoy you all the time, ”said Duling. “We have some wheat in it, but we don’t have many good wheat fields in our area. We tried to plant rye and we let it rot. The sooner I can plant it the better, but this year it has been a struggle. I’ve tried more inter-seeding on V4 this year. It looks great and I’m sold now. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years. It’s another way to get cover crops. I had a lot flown with me. I don’t keep flying my corn and beans so why should I keep flying my cover crop? But this year it was a way to get it out. High boys are another option too. “
Cover crop land in the Western Lake Erie Basin has received a big boost from the H2Ohio program, but weather made it difficult to plant before the October 15 program deadline last fall.
“I pushed for H2Ohio’s October 15th deadline to be extended for catch crops and we got there by November 1st, but even that didn’t help. We’ve had a hit with catch crop planting this year, ”said Duling. “In the end we know that Mother Nature is in charge.”
For others in a similar situation, it is important to work with the local Soil and Water Conservation District and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Both are aware of the challenges of planting cover crops this fall and are ready to partner with farmers who have strived to grow cover crops in the fall of 2021 despite the weather challenges. H2Ohio funds will be issued accordingly after field inspections in 2022.
“But don’t go out and work the fields if you’re not planting cover crops,” said Duling. “I believe in catch crops and what they do for me. For me, catch crops are like a crop. It’s just as good for corn and soybeans because I know what it will do for my soil in the next few years. I hate to miss a year with catch crops because I know what they’re doing for my soils. ”