Recent rains welcomed by Ohio farmers

“Knee high by the Fourth of July.”

You’ve likely heard that saying before as a measurement farmers use to determine how well their corn crop is doing. The saying goes that if the corn crop is at least knee high by the Fourth of July, farmers can expect a good yield.

While the saying does have its roots in the past, many farmers today will plant their crops at different times depending on weather and field conditions. Some crops are much higher by July 4 while others could just be getting started.

Over the past few days, I had a chance to drive around visiting friends and family across southwest and central Ohio. As I’m sure you know, there are many scenic roads through some beautiful farmland. I was somewhat surprised to see how well the corn and soybeans looked in many places I passed, knowing that our area is in a bit of a deficit with rainfall. I even saw some farmers taking advantage of the nice days last week working in the fields.

So how are the crops actually doing around the state despite the deficit in rainfall? While some farmers were beginning to report drought conditions earlier in June, an Ohio crop weather report released by the Great Lakes Region of the United States Department of Agriculture says recent rains from last week were a huge help to farmers. The rainfall added some much needed soil moisture. This has allowed for crop emergence to be steady. With the chance to dry out late last week and early in the weekend, farmers have had a chance to get back into the fields to treat their crops and start harvesting wheat and hay.

Unfortunately, the severe storms last week did cause some crop damage in spots due to high winds. But overall the corn, soybeans and wheat crops are looking better than last year. According to the USDA, 74 percent of the state had adequate or surplus topsoil moisture, while 26 percent of the state reports a shortage. So while your local rivers and streams may appear to be running low, Ohio’s crops are actually fairing quite a bit better than this same time last year. The USDA says at around 95 percent of the crops currently in the ground are in fair to excellent condition compared to 85 percent last year at this time.

So with luck, despite the forecast of a drier than average summer, our farmers will have just enough rain to keep the crops looking good at harvest time.

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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