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This flooded field is just east of Covington. Photo by Doug Longfellow.

Floods swamp Ohio farms and fields

What had started out as a good looking crop for some parts of western Ohio has turned into a sea of flooded fields and inevitable replant situations.

Up to six inches of water, combined with some hail in some areas, hit western Ohio yesterday afternoon and evening. Some of the hardest hit areas were in the Miami Valley.

Young’s Jersey Dairy, near Yellow Springs, was under water that infiltrated the retail Dairy Store.

Despite soggy carpets, the facilities were still open and all the farm animals were accounted for, though crops will have plenty of moisture in the coming days.

The rainfall amounts were extremely variable.

“We got two inches right here at our shop near Greenville. It came super fast and we have a lot of ponding in our low areas. Just north of here two or three miles at my house I only got a half-inch,” said Doug Longfellow, who sells crop insurance for Rogers Grain Elevator in Covington. “But as you move east and south, it increased by the inch. I have customers in the New Carlisle, Huber Heights, Tipp City areas that got anywhere form four to six inches that totally wiped out some beautiful corn fields. They will have to start over. There are a lot of basements flooded and I had a customer with a 1,000-gallon propane tank that was floating. They have a lot of damage. I would guess most farms in that area were done or close to being done planting corn and were getting started on planting beans.”

It was not only the amounts, but also the intensity of the downpours that were so damaging.

“The speed of the rain and the water moving washed away the stalks and topsoil and may or may not have taken the seed with it,” Longfellow said. “If corn has already been planted and you can’t get back in

to plant until after June 5, you still have full coverage on that corn because it is a replant situation. Of course, we have until June 20 on beans. There will definitely be some replant calculations to make.

“If it doesn’t dry up in the next couple of weeks we are going to run into prevented plant on corn. We will have to see what happens in the next couple of weeks. I just can’t believe the weather extremes we are seeing that we haven’t seen before.”

In areas with ponding on emerging corn plants, the extent of the damage will depend on several factors including plant development stage, duration of ponding, and temperature, said Peter Thomison, Ohio State University Extension corn specialist.

“Prior to the six-leaf collar stage (as measured by visible leaf collars) or when the growing point is at or below the soil surface, corn can usually survive only two to four days of flooded conditions. Since most of the corn that’s been planted so far is not beyond the V2-3 stage, it’s especially vulnerable to damage from ponding and saturated soil conditions,” Thomison said. “The oxygen supply in the soil is depleted after about 48 hours in a flooded soil. Without oxygen, the plant cannot perform critical life sustaining functions.”

Thomison warns that if temperatures are warm during ponding, plants may not survive 24-hours, but cooler temperatures prolong survival.

“Even if ponding doesn’t kill plants outright, it may have a long term negative impact on crop performance. Excess moisture during the early vegetative stages retards corn root development,” Thomison said. “As a result, plants may be subject to greater injury during a dry summer because root systems are not sufficiently developed to access available subsoil water. Ponding can also result in losses of nitrogen through denitrification and leaching. Even if water drains quickly, there is the possibility of surface crusts forming as the soil dries that can impact the emergence of recently planted crops. Growers should be prepared to rotary hoe to break up the crust to promote emergence.”

“For corn that’s emerged, check the color of the growing point to assess plant survival after ponding. It should be white to cream colored, while a darkening and/or softening usually precedes plant death. For corn not yet emerged, evaluate the appearance and integrity of seeds or seedlings that have yet to emerge (likely rotting if discolored and softening). Look for new leaf growth three to five days after water drains from the field.”

The weather outlook for the week of May 26 calls for near to slightly above normal temperatures with near normal rainfall. For the latest National Weather Service Ohio River Forecast Center 16-day rainfall outlook, go to:



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