Farmers in the region appear to be getting a break from heavy precipitation that has delayed planting, although challenges remain.
High precipitation levels that started last year and extended into the beginning of this year delayed planting of corn earlier this spring. They also hampered efforts to get into fields to prepare them for the planting season, local growers said.
Some sections of fields will not be planted with corn, according to agriculture experts.
But the advantage is that will create more space for soybean crops, said Jeff Semler, a local educator specializing in agriculture and natural resources for the University of Maryland Extension.
Keedysville farmer Dale Price, who grows corn, soybeans, wheat and milo on about 2,500 acres in Washington County and other nearby areas, said he has been able to plant in some low-lying areas that are typically wet.
But in other areas, water is still bubbling up from ground springs, Price said.
Emily Morrow said some cornfields in Jefferson County, W.Va., still have stalks from last year. Morrow, an agriculture and natural-resources agent for the WVU Extension Service in Jefferson County, said she assumes farmers have not been able to get into the fields because of rain.
“But we’re in a much better situation than we were in at this time last year,” she said.
In Jefferson County last year, many farmers were not able to get their first hay cutting completed until around July Fourth, Morrow said. They have already started that process this year, she said.
Late May and the first of June is when farmers typically cut their first crop of hay.
Although challenges continue, they are not as bad as in states like Nebraska, Semler said.
A recent AccuWeather story quoted a Nebraska farmer as saying that the planting conditions there are some of the worst he can remember because of excess precipitation.
Semler, who was at a ranch conference in Nebraska last week, said there is farmland in the state that is “just laying in water.”
Semler said he thinks Washington County farmers who grow produce for retail sale seem to be doing OK at this point. But if heavy precipitation starts again, it could affect the quality of produce, he said.
“It’s a little too early to tell on that,” Semler said.