Ag experts advising patience for Indiana corn farmers

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Southwest Indiana farmer Brian Schroeder is concerned about when he's going to finally be able to start planting corn and other crops this spring because his fields are so water-logged from heavy April rains, and more rain is in the forecast for the first week of May.

"Everything is ready to go and we're sitting here twiddling our thumbs," Schroeder said.

It's a familiar story throughout Indiana. As of Sunday, farmers in Indiana had planted just 1 percent of the corn crop, compared with the five-year average of 30 percent by the end of April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service reports. A year ago, when 40 percent of Indiana was listed as unusually dry as the state was headed into a drought, farmers in the state reported they had planted 67 percent of the state's corn crop.

Nationwide among key farming states, 5 percent of the corn crop is planted, down from 49 percent a year ago at this time and the five year average of 31 percent. In states surrounding Indiana, Ohio had 2 percent of its crop planted, Illinois had 1 percent, Michigan didn't have a report and Kentucky had 24 percent, which was half of its five-year average.

Schroeder said he had his entire corn crop planted last year by April 13. He has yet to plant any corn in his 3,000-acre farm in Freelandlandville in Knox County, 70 miles north of Evansville.

"We try to be done with corn by the 15th of May at the latest," he said.

Above-average rainfall has have prevented that in most of Indiana. In Indianapolis, 8.59 inches of rain had fallen in April as of Tuesday, nearly 5 inches above average and just .01 below the record of 8.60 inches set in 1893, the National Weather Service reported. Lafayette also had received nearly 5 inches of rain above average at 8.35 inches. Fort Wayne had the third-wettest April on record at 7.1 inches, 3.69 inches above average.

Elsewhere, Terre Haute received 7.48 inches of rain, Muncie 5.77 inches, Valparaiso and Bloomington 5.15 inches each, and Evansville received 3.86 inches, which was 0.34 inches below normal.

Associate state climatologist Ken Scheeringa said he doesn't expect things to improve until at least mid-May, saying the forecast for the next week or so is a continuation of above average rain and below normal temperatures. He said the longer forecast is "wishy-washy" saying there is an equal chance of having above or below temperatures and precipitation for the rest of the month.

"So we're not looking for a whole lot of change in the next 10 days," he said.

Purdue University agricultural experts are advising farmers to be patient. Purdue corn specialist Bob Nielsen said conventional wisdom in much of Indiana is that the prime planting window to maximize corn yields is between April 20 and May 10. But Nielsen said the calendar has little influence over yield, saying weather the rest of the growing season is a much bigger factor.

"Technically, we've got plenty of time," Nielsen said. "We know from experience that if we are forced into planting in late May or even early June, that if the rest of the season is perfect, we can have great yields even though we're planting so late."

Nielsen and Purdue agronomist Tony Vyn advise farmers to stay out of the fields until they dry out. Vyn said farmers shouldn't till fields until a day before they plan to plant because it can cause soil to compact, which can be worse for yield than delayed planting.

"The yield potential in the seed depends in part on preserving the best soil structure possible," Vyn said. "So just because the field is dry enough to get across the field and not get the tractor stuck, does not mean that the soil conditions are fit for tillage and for planting."

Vyn points out that in 2009, when bad weather led to the latest corn harvest in almost 40 years, Indiana farmers saw their best-ever corn harvest per acre.

"As of this point, we're no worse off than 2009," Nielsen said.

Nielsen said farmers can plant the crops quickly, saying it's common for 30 percent or more of the corn crop to be planted in a week and he's seen as much as 50 percent of the state's corn crop planted in a week.

"So in that context, there's plenty of time," he said. "The big unknown is whether Mother Nature is going to allow that to happen."


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Thank you to the scientists who care enough to find a cure. We are so lucky that their intelligence has brought them to these understandings because it is through these understandings that we have new hope. Certainly the medicine will be expensive, these drugs usually are, especially the ones that are not mass produced. If I know anything from the walks that my town has put on for FA it is this: people care and people want to help. Donations and financial support can and will come to those who need it. All we need is a cure, the money will come. I mean, look at what these scientists have done thanks to the generosity of donors. 30 million dollars brings us here where we can talk about a drug's existence! There is so much to be frustrated about in this world, but this scientific break is not one of them. I am so happy for this new found hope. Thank you so much to the scientists who have been slaving away to help my friends with FA. We wish you speedy success in the time to come!

  2. I love tiny neighborhood bars-- when I travel city to city for work, it's my preference to find them. However, too many still having smoking inside. So I'm limited to bars in the cities that have smoking bans. I travel to Kokomo often, and I can promise, I'll be one of those people who visit the ma and pa bars once they're smoke free!

  3. I believe the issue with keystone & 96th was due to running out of funds though there were other factors. I just hope that a similar situation does not befall ST RD 37 where only half of the overhaul gets built.

  4. It's so great to see a country founded on freedom uphold the freedom for all people to work and patronize a public venue without risking their health! People do not go to bars to smoke, they can take it outside.

  5. So, Hurko, mass transit has not proven itself in Indy so we should build incredibly expensive train lines? How would that fix the lack of demand? And as far as those double decker buses to bus people in from suburbs, we can't fill up a regular sized buses now and have had to cancel lines and greatly subsidize others. No need for double decker buses there.