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April (and May) showers, soccer and planting

By Matt Reese

April showers have sidelined U4 soccer and spring planting.

My daughter has always been energetic and I was excited when we had the chance to harness some of that energy for something constructive when she started playing soccer at three years old. What I have since discovered in her (and her teammates’) exploits on the field of play is somewhat less than constructive, though certainly entertaining.

Last fall and this spring, her team took to the fields in epic battles of post-toddler soccer struggles. More often than not, multiple players from each team are sidelined due to crying, distractions or potty breaks. And, most generally, if the players stay on the field and reasonably engaged in the game, it is a great victory worthy of celebration with a post-game ice cream cone (a favorite for both daddy and daughter).

The season has wrapped up for the spring, and needless to say, this weather has been less than ideal for the mud-covered little kid soccer leagues due to the steady deluge of rain, brisk winds and cool temperatures. There have been more games and practices canceled than actually held due to the unbelievably terrible conditions last month. At least we still got ice cream after the practices, though.

While youth soccer has certainly suffered due to the soggy spring weather, there are other implications that have more significant consequences. Farmers too have been kept on the sidelines this spring as the persistent rains have left fields too wet to plant crops.

As of May 2, 1% of the state’s corn crop had been planted compared to 60% in 2010 and 32% for the five-year average, according to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service. Everything else, from peaches to oats, is well behind schedule as well and 93% of the state’s topsoil has surplus moisture. Many parts of the state set, or nearly set, all time April rainfall records. Steve Emery, the Crop Production Services marketing manager in southern Ohio, said farmers in his part of the state around Washington Courthouse were starting to get concerned about the weather by the end of April.

“With good reason, there is some underlying concern from some of the area farmers. We’ve had anywhere from 10, to 12, to 13 inches of rain in the area reported in April,” Emery said. “There has not been much field work at all and hardly any crops have been planted. I know the further south you get, they are talking about not only a record April rainfall, but we are very close to a record for monthly rainfall period, for any month. This has been an exceptionally wet month, but we’ll get through it.”

When the weather finally does cooperate, Crop Production Services will have plenty to do.

“May can turn around in a hurry and we can dry out in a hurry. We will get that window to work, but this definitely presents some challenges for us because of the time constraints,” Emery said. “There are still a lot of fertilizer applications that need to happen as well as pre-plant chemical applications. All of that is going to hit at once, where in a normal year it can be spread out. When it comes time, we’ll be ready for it.”

With the arrival of early May, weather conditions did not improve — more rain, cool weather and brisk breezes.

“I quit watching the weather to be honest with you,” Emery said. “We really need some heat and some good drying conditions. We can get started with field work if we just get three or four days of good drying conditions.”

Good luck and stay safe in what will hopefully be a drier, warmer, sunnier mid-May. With already tight global corn and soybean supplies, the world is depending on you to successfully plant and harvest a bountiful crop in 2011.

I am depending on you too. I need those crops to feed the cows to produce the milk to make the delicious ice cream cones for after soccer practice. The fall season is just around the corner.

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