In a normal year, farmers would have at least 75 percent of their corn crop in the ground by now and be busy planting soybeans.
But the year's incessantly wet weather is causing a long delay, and farmers are having to rethink their options.
"By this time, 90 percent (of corn) would normally be planted," said agronomist Ed Lentz, educator with Ohio State University Extension, Seneca County. "At least 75 percent would be planted by now."
In reality, he said not much corn has been planted yet.
"I think we've only got about 15-20 percent in, and that's probably on the high said," Lentz said late last week. "We had a couple days last week that the ground was a little dryer and some got one or two fields in.
As of May 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service reported only 7 percent of Ohio's corn crop had been planted. That's 76 percent behind last year, and 63 percent behind the five-year average.
Indiana farmers were faring a bit better, with 29 percent of the corn crop planted - but that's still 56 percent behind last year and 37 percent behind the five-year average.
Because of the shorter growing season, greater disease and insect pressure, and the potential threat of drought stress during the key stages of pollination and grain fill, it's usually estimated farmers can expect yield losses of at least one bushel per acre for every day's delay in planting after the first week of May. The expected loss grows to nearly two bushels per day by the end of May.
However, USDA research suggests that isn't always the case.
A news release said two of eight years since 1980 when planting was delayed saw record yields.
In addition to spring weather, the weather in July and August plays a major role in final yields.
For now, however, farmers are hoping to get crops in the ground soon.
It's not only rain that's causing problems, Lentz said.
"It's just this mix of non-drying conditions," he said. "It's not only frequent rain, but a north wind, cool temperatures and high humidity."
During most springs, Lentz said a shower during the day would set a farmer back maybe a half-day until conditions dried again. But this year, the ground isn't drying.
"We've had very few days without any rain at all," he said. "That's just keeping us damp."
Looking at the weather forecast late last week, Lentz was optimistic farmers would get a day or two in the fields over the weekend before rain struck again.
"We have a long ways to go," he said. "Normally we like to be having 50 percent of our beans in by now."
Because it's past mid-May, Lentz said it's time for farmers to start considering hybrids that take fewer days to mature.
"We're getting right at that break," he said. "You might be looking at an earlier hybrid.
"You also got to look at a different proportion of corn versus soybeans," he said. "Maybe less corn and more beans. Now you got to ask that question, 'How bad do I need the corn.'"
Livestock producers might choose to plant corn anyway because they need it to feed their animals and avoid the high cost of buying feed.
Or if a farmers has contracted corn in advance, he might have to plant it.
"We will have some yield reduction at this point," Lentz said. The amount of reduction depends on the rest of the growing season.
To add to the decision-making, Lentz said farmers might run into limited supplies of earlier hybrids from seed dealers.
If farmers are considering switching to soybeans, he suggested taking time now to check on seed availability.
Farmers also are considering changes to fertilizer options and some might want to increase the number of seeds they plant per acre.
"They definitely need to get the plants per acre now to get the yield," he said.
He compared heavier seeding to a factory putting on a second shift of workers. It's getting more output from the same amount of space.
"That's what we're doing, as agronomists," he said. "Insetead of adding more land, let's try to get more out of this land by increasing production."
On the soybean side of spring crops, no changes are needed yet.
However, Lentz recommended farmers use a seed treatment on beans this year if they weren't planning to already. Warm, wet soils are ideal conditions for phytophthora, a soybean parasite that is difficult to control and can reduce yields considerably.
Farmers shouldn't see a yield drop in soybeans until the first part of June.
The wheat crop growing now also is a cause for concern in wet conditions, Lentz said.
"We're coming into a critical time period for wheat," he said. "There's a tremendous opportunity for head scab. We'll be watching really close for it for the next four weeks."
As plants flower, he said humid conditions are good growing conditions for the fungus that causes vomitoxin, which is toxic to people and livestock.
However, flowering might be later than usual because of cool conditions.
Ridding wheat of head scab requires applying fungicide within a 48-hour window, he said. And that creates a problem this year because there could be an overall need for fungicide in the area and not enough equipment to apply it. In addition, fields are too wet to apply it with ground equipment.
"If the public starts hearing a lot of planes flying, it's probably farmers putting fungicide on wheat," he said. "It won't hurt people."
Even if farmers miss the window for head scab, he suggested applying fungicide anyway because it will help relieve the plant of a host of other plant diseases that flourish in wet weather.