Athens County Farmer Looks Forward To Promising Harvest Season

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Kelly Abfall is an Athens County farmer. He's 32 years old, lives near Albany and grows corn and soybeans.

Other farmers around Ohio have been planting their crops already because of the mild winter. Abfall says he, too, is taking advantage of the good weather.

He met us in a field along New Marshfield Road, west of Athens.

"Right now, I'm running a disc. When we harvested this field last year, we left some ruts with the combine because it was just a little too wet.I'm just trying to lift enough soil to smooth it up a little bit," said Abfall. "Hopefully we'll get these ruts fixed up and have nice weather from here on out so we can use no-till. On hills like this, no-till is a better program for soil erosion. But sometimes you have to do some tillage."

Abfall hasn't started planting yet but says it won't be long.

"So far this year seems to be a lot like the 2010 year, which we got a nice early start. Unfortunately in 2010, it rained almost the entire month of May so we lost a lot of progress. Plus, the crops that we got planted early didn't do that good because they went through that cool, wet spell. Hopefully this year the spring will stay nice the way it is so we can have a good growing season. We'll probably get starting planting at least 30 days earlier than last year if not more. As cold as it's been the last few mornings, I'm not in a huge hurry to put seed in the ground because I only want to do it once. So far, it's a lot more promising than last year, " Abfall said. 

As of this past week, at least according to one report, two percent of Ohio's corn and 42 percent of its oats had been planted.

It was a different story last year. Most farmers delayed planting until after Memorial Day because of heavy rain. Abfall, too, but it was still a pretty good year.

"Really all things considered, I can't complain. We had a few, I would say we lost a little bit of yield in places just because of areas we couldn't get planted. But all in all, as late as our crops were planted, I was very pleased with them. We had some exceptional yields and we had some mediocre yields and we had some just not very great," said Abfall. "The prices were pretty good last year. I was lucky enough to make a few right decisions in the marketing department, so that helped. But yeah, last year turned out a lot better than I thought it was going to be in the beginning."

Last season, Abfall put in about 350 acres of corn and 350 acres of soybeans. He's planning to do the same this year but swapping out the fields to battle bugs.

"Basically, just to try and have a good rotation, you have a lot less disease and insect problems if you rotate crops. Last year this field had wheat in it. We planted a second crop of soy beans. This year it's going to corn. We basically do it to try and break up pest cycles," he said. 

Crop rotation could be particularly important this year because of the relatively warm temperatures over the winter.

"I look for there to be more insect pressure this year because we didn't have a lot of hard freezes last winter. I know it's been probably three weeks ago that I started seeing flies buzzing around already so I'm sure that there will be more insect pressure. I'm not sure how it's really going to affect us as far as crops go. With the live stock, I'm sure that we're probably going to see more flies than we would like to," he said.  

The sun is shining brightly as we end our conversation.

The scent of wild onion is in the air. It's hard to imagine a nicer morning, especially if you make a living off the land.

"I'm living my dream being able to do this," Abfall said. "Today is a blessing."