Tribune-Courier News Reporter
While western Kentucky’s growing season is behind schedule because of an unusually wet spring that delayed planting throughout the region, this season’s harvest is still expected to yield more crop than last year.
Lincoln Martin, county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources of the University of Kentucky, said this year’s seasons could not be any more different from last year. He said the season was not perfect in any way, but would definitely yield better results when harvest time comes.
He said planting generally starts in early summer, but because of delays caused by wetter weather planting was delayed.
“There’s a point you say planting is too late and that’s because of when we expect our first frost to occur,” he said. “There’s got to be a certain amount of time between when a farmer plants and when the frost occurs. The crop has to have time to mature, but if you run out of that block of time for planting then there’s no point because the crop won’t mature in time for harvest.”
Even though planting and harvesting schedules have been impacted by this year’s wetter season, Martin said the crops this year as a whole will do better.
“If there’s anything to wish for out of this growing season it’s that our frost comes later this year,” he said. “If it does it’ll mean more time for the crops to mature, but of course we don’t have any control of that.”
Martin said the hay crop this year was especially good as a result of the weather and a late harvest. He said it allowed a second cutting opportunity which wasn’t possible last year.
Corn, soybeans and tobacco – the region’s predominant crops – aren’t having the miserable season associated with last year, but aren’t doing as well as they have in the past either.
Martin said some of the acreage that was meant to be planted with corn and soybeans never was because of poor weather conditions.
While corn is having to mature quicker in preparation for the first frost, the soybean fields are, in some areas, having difficulty producing quality crops at all.
Martin said the nodules on a plant’s root system derive nitrogen out of the air, but because of water interfering with the process some fields have been unable to grow properly.
“I was looking at a 150-acre soybean field the other day that had geese swimming through it,” he said. “That is not a good environment for nodulation to occur. It’s not a good environment for a plant’s root system and the yield in that location will be very negatively impacted.”
Tobacco, too, is having problems because of the wet weather, as the crop actually prefers hot and dry conditions.
“The weather conditions we’ve had are conducive to diseases in tobacco,” he said. “The best way to eliminate disease in a crop is to prevent it, which is done by spraying. The problem is that as often it has been raining farmers are having to spray multiple times and it’s caused some fields to run unchecked with disease, a problem for our tobacco producers.”
While corn, soybeans and tobacco are still having a rough season, Martin said it was definitely preferable to last year.
He said although the harvesting schedules were pushed back farmers should be able to have a good harvest at the end of the season.
He said the drought last year was terrible for anyone dealing with agriculture on a regular basis.
“Last year our yields dried up in the fields,” he said. “We had less pollination because it was so hot and dry and the plants couldn’t overcome it. Even though the hybrids we’re growing these days are tougher and more well adapted, they still have their limits. Those limits were far exceeded by last years hot and dry summer.”
Last year’s terrible harvest, coupled with positive results shown so far this year have convinced Martin he said, that this season will fair well.