Soaked fields complicate planting schedules

Associate Editor

(July 5, 2016) Rain continued to create issues for Delmarva farmers last month, and many crops are lagging behind five-year progress averages — particularly sweet corn, according to last week’s USDA Crop Progress report.
Delaware received up to five days of rain, and Maryland received up to four in the week ending June 26.
Due to the amount of soil moisture, farmers continued to have planting issues. Just 74 percent of sweet corn was planted, compared to the 93 percent five-year average, the report said. Hay and wheat harvests have also been a concern.
“Barley and wheat harvest were put on hold from the rain,” said Henry Hudson III in Sussex County, Del., according to the report. “Low test weights and yields reported — lots of trash in grain.”
Wheat has also been slow to dry, said John Timmons, also from Sussex County. The percentage of cucumbers planted, soybeans emerged and winter wheat harvested also lagged considerably behind the five-year average. Crop conditions have also suffered compared to last year’s June 28 report.
The percentage of apples, barley, hay, peaches and winter wheat scoring an “excellent” rating were almost entirely in the single digits in Maryland and Delaware — a dropoff from last year.
“Peaches are looking better than first thought, apples look good,” said Charles Schuster, reporting from Frederick and Howard counties in Maryland. “Early squash failed in many areas. Pastures are continuing to look good with regular moisture, but soils had started to dry out prior to the rain. Blueberry harvest is strong as strawberries wane.”
The area was also recovering from a small tornado that traveled about 12 miles, he said.
Some debris remained in fields, and a great deal of tree damage was reported in the Glenelg area.
Since April 1, much of Maryland has seen more than 40 days of rain, the report said. Frostburg has seen 50.
Most areas have seen between 9 and 14 inches of rain, a smaller amount than last year’s June 28 report.
“There has been record rainfall for the month of June, thus soil moisture levels are very high and it is hard to get field work done,” said Dave Martin, reporting from Baltimore County.