June 25, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

“Rain, rain go away, come again another day.”

That rhyme must be on the mind of many farmers as they’ve watched rains each week delay their chances of planting crops or causing many that have been planted to face waterlogged conditions.

“It’s a mess,” said Keith Ayer, who farms in McLean and Daviess counties. “It’s about as bad as I’ve ever seen.”

While the incessant rains finally have quit, the weather conditions have resulted in a less than optimal planting season.

Ayer said he’s given up on planting corn and likely will switch those final 60 acres to soybeans or perhaps file an insurance claim for prevented planting. He also has about half of his conventional soybeans to plant and all his double-crop soybeans to plant. The double-cropped beans have to wait until the wheat crop is harvested before being planted.

Ayer generally plants soybeans and corn on a 50-50 split on 1,400 acres. His corn that is planted, of which 100 acres was replanted because of washing and rotting, looks good, he said.

In nearby Henderson County, farmers have seen the rivers rise three times this spring, swallowing up planted fields and even some fields that already had been replanted. The county, surrounded on three sides by the Ohio and Green rivers, has thousands of acres of cropland in these river bottoms.

For every 1,000 acres a farmer has, an estimated 15 to 20 percent has needed replanting, said Mike Smith, Henderson County agriculture and natural resources agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Because of the continuing wet conditions, some places may not be replanted this growing season, he said.

“This past three weeks are some of the toughest I’ve worked under,” Smith said.

Because of the wet conditions, what crops have been planted are under stress, he said. Farmers need to take this stress into consideration as they manage the crop for weeds and diseases in the days ahead.

Smith also said farmers should not skip weed control in areas of the field where the crop did not survive.  “That can come back to haunt you next year,” he said.

If weather forecasts are correct and rains finally do quit, Smith said equipment would be running again in the fields planting soybeans and harvesting wheat.

“We’re not replanting any corn, it’s past time for that,” he said.

Generally, farmers can expect a 1 percent per day reduction in yields for any corn planted beyond the middle of May. Many cornfields in the state were planted well beyond that timeframe. Late-planted cornfields also can be more susceptible to certain insect damage such as the Southwestern corn borer.

Soybean planting date studies in Kentucky have shown an average yield loss of 1.5 percent per day for plantings made after June 10-15, said Jim Herbek, UK grains specialist.

If plantings are made beyond mid June, a mid- to full-season variety for a given area should be used since the plants will produce more vegetative growth and have the potential for a higher yield, he said. However, if plantings are delayed beyond the first part of July, an earlier maturing variety should be used to ensure that the crop matures before a freeze occurs.


Mike Smith, 270-826-8387; Jim Herbek, 270-365-7541