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A Poor Planting Season For Ohio Farmers

Aug 14, 2019
tractor in farm field
Jean Beaufort / Public Domain Pictures

Ohio farmers are grappling with the worst weather-related planting season on record, with more than one in seven acres covered by the federal crop insurance program unplanted because of record rainfall.

But Ohio isn’t alone. Farmers across the Midwest have struggled with how to balance the equation of when, how or even if to plant their crops. 

Bret Davis in one of his corn fields. He worries this years slow start could put a ceiling on yields.
Nick Evans / WOSU

The last time I visited Bret Davis' farm in Delaware County, earlier in the spring, I was asking him about a federal program helping farmers bit by the trade war. It was raining then, and it was wet and rainy when I spoke to him this week, too.

Adam Kocher cuts open a bale of fermented hay, which they grow to feed cows.
Olivia Miltner / WOSU

The Kocher family has been farming the same plat of land near the northern Ohio village of Bloomville for generations. Among other crops, they grow alfalfa hay to feed their 700 dairy cows.

You've probably heard statistics about how our diet affects the health of the planet. Like how a beef hamburger takes considerably more water and land to produce than a veggie burger or that around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from food production.

Climate change is coming like a freight train, or a rising tide. And our food, so dependent on rain and suitable temperatures, sits right in its path.

The plants that nourish us won't disappear entirely. But they may have to move to higher and cooler latitudes, or farther up a mountainside. Some places may find it harder to grow anything at all, because there's not enough water.

Here are five foods, and food-growing places, that will see the impact.

Wheat

Google Commons

It’s a rare event for a great growing season to stress out a farmer, but that’s exactly what’s happening across much of Ohio. This fall has brought a harvest that’s huge on yields but short on buyers.

dying cornstalks
Alan Turkus / Flickr Creative Commons

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners votes this week on a measure that would pay farmers not to cut down some of their cornstalks. The plant material can serve as a natural barrier to keep snow off of roadways.

Flickr.com

An Ohio State study finds that some Ohio farmers could lose more than half of their annual income if a threatened 25 percent tariff goes into effect on soybeans and corn sent to China.

Farming is an industry worth more than $100 billion in Ohio. But all the rain this summer means farmers weren't able to plant all their corn and soybean fields. And what seeds were planted are being drowned.