Wet spring makes planting difficult for farmers

LOUISVILLE — A wet spring in Kentucky has delayed planting grains and some farmers will have to decide whether to give up on corn crops and move on to soybeans.

The entire state has had greater than average rainfall over the past 60 days, with some parts getting up to 13 inches more rain than normal. In Kentucky, corn and soybeans account for more than half and as much as three-fifths, respectively, of the annual cash receipts for planted crops.

University of Kentucky agronomist Chad Lee told The Courier-Journal that in a normal year farmers would switch over to soybeans by June 1, but farmers like Kevin Dick in Oldham County said the muddy spring has kept him from planting a single soybean yet this year.

"And I was kind of lucky to get the corn done — mudded the last of that in," Dick said.

Planting in muddy conditions can result in poor root system development and stunted growth for corn.

"Over the past five or 10 years, I don't know that we've had a spring quite like this one," Lee said.

Lee said there are other worries that the wet spring could throw off seed development through August, one of the state's hottest and driest months.

"We've had a little bit over half of our annual rainfall already at this point. And so if you're playing the numbers, that doesn't bode well for rain throughout the rest of the season," Lee said.

Terry Rhodes, a Daviess County farmer, said he has a couple of days more of corn left to plant, already has about 30 percent of his beans planted and can been done in about a week. Rhodes said corn planted in late May in western Kentucky can still turn out well.

"It just depends on the rainfall in the latter part of July and during the first half of August," he said. "So I never give up until it's in the grain bins. You never know what can happen."