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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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The Race Against Mother Nature

By Tyne

It’s a race against Mother Nature every spring and fall for farmers across the U.S. This season, some may argue Mother Nature has pulled ahead over the past month. What started out to be a great year for planting with above normal temperatures in many areas across the country, has turned into a waiting game for farmers.

Fred Pond farms in northwest Ohio, and for him, this hurry-up-and-wait game is getting old

Pond has all of his corn in the ground, but only 5 percent of his soybeans planted.

“We’re actually slightly ahead of last year,” Pond said. “Part of the problem this spring is that we had such a beautiful late April. The corn was planted in perfect conditions.

“We were all so optimistic — then the rains began and haven’t stopped, which was nearly a month ago.”

That’s right — nearly a month ago. Pond says as of May 20, they haven’t been in the field for an entire month. After two straight years of cool, wet springs, farmers got their hopes up for a planting season where Mother Nature cooperated. Now, they’re just waiting.

The majority of farmers in Ohio – and throughout the Midwest — are in the same boat as Pond. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Crop Progress Report, as of May 16, 2010, 84 percent of Ohio’s corn crop has been planted. That’s a whopping 47 percentage point increase from what farmers had planted this time last year, and 12 percentage points higher than the five-year average.

Nationally, 87 percent of the corn acreage is in the ground – a 26 percentage point increase from last year. The five-year average for May 16 is 78 percentage points, so farmers are still ahead of that mark.

The good news is Pond doesn’t think he’ll have to replant any of his corn.

“The stand counts before the last rain were from 16,000 to 30,000 per acre,” he said.

He’s still not certain if he’ll have to replant any of the soybeans he has in the ground because the effects of too much water and frost damage can’t be determined just yet.

Almost half of Ohio’s soybean crop has been planted so far. The latest USDA Crop Progress Report shows 45 percent of the state’s soybeans are planted, which is a 29 percentage point increase from this time last year and only 3 percentage points higher than average.

When farmers are able to get back in the field, Pond says it will be a planting marathon. And although farmers will be in a rush to get their crops in the ground in a timely fashion, Pond wants to remind farmers to take their time.

“Farmers need to keep their speeds appropriate to do a good job and make adjustments for proper population,” he said. “Above all, be safe and thankful.”

Pond says although there has been a long delay in planting, the genetics in the seed still offer growers across the U.S. great yield potential.

“Let’s not give up the ship yet. I never underestimate the ability of a farmer to make things work out.”

You can actually follow Pond’s planting progress on Twitter or Facebook.

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