It’s crunch time for those who make a living off the land.
Spring is always a busy time for farmers as they repair equipment and prepare their fields. But a cold and wet spring, and a late-arriving one at that, means most crops still need to be planted.
Through last Sunday, only 8 percent of the Ohio corn had been planted, down from the five-year average of 25 percent at that point, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Just 3 percent of soybeans had been planted, below the five-year average of 12 percent.
Farmers prefer to have corn planted by mid-May, followed quickly by beans.
That means country roads will soon to be inundated with tractors, planters, spreaders and sprayers as farmers scramble to make up for lost time. Mix slow-moving farm equipment with faster-traveling cars and trucks and the potential for collisions increases dramatically.
Accidents with farm vehicles are especially dangerous because of the difference in speed and size of the vehicles.
Motorists should keep in mind that farm equipment has as much right to the road as passenger vehicles, and they should use extra caution and patience sharing it.
Most farmers try to avoid busy highways and move their equipment at non-peak driving times. But some farm in different areas and can’t avoid traveling on even state and federal roadways.
Reducing speed while driving through agricultural areas will prevent most collisions with farm equipment.
It can take 300 feet for a car traveling 55 mph to avoid a collision with a farm vehicle traveling 15 mph. Even if a motorist has to slow down and follow a tractor for one mile, that would only take about three minutes, which is about the same as waiting for a stoplight.
Other defensive driving skills apply, too.
Since farm equipment is usually wider than normal traffic lanes, motorists approaching such a vehicle should pull off in a safe location to allow it to pass.
While most farmers are aware of the traffic around them because their equipment is much larger and louder than conventional vehicles, motorists shouldn’t assume the farmer knows they’re there. Motorists should watch for turn signals or hand motions to indicate upcoming turns.
Considering the likely rush to plant in coming weeks, motorists will encounter farm equipment along any rural route. It’s a critical time of the year for those who work the earth and help provide us food. The least we all can do is slow down and give farmers the space to get safely to and from work.
If you’re going to repeat that moldy argument that newspapers print only bad news to boost circulation, don’t make your point by waving around Friday’s printed edition of The Courier.
The top half of Page A1, always the best of what a daily newspaper has to offer, was crammed with very good long-term news for our region.
The lead story: “New distribution center to employ 425 / Average wage to be $57,000.”
The second story: “Taylor to build VW dealership / $5M project along CR99.”
The third story: “Street, alley closings to aid UF (stadium) project.”
Add those three items to the other very good things that one can now see taking shape around here lately:
• Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s $80 million expansion and the prime jobs that will come with it.
• Early work on the $10 million Marathon Center for the Performing Arts at the former Central Middle School site.
• The construction of the new U.S. 224 bridge over Interstate 75, which could be said to be the first work on widening I-75 northward.
Furthermore, add to all that Bill Frack’s generous donation to the Community Foundation of Findlay-Hancock County recently, Findlay’s three new schools, and our area’s determination to solve its flooding problems, one way or another.
Still, let’s take further advantage of the times because, indeed, these are the good old days.