Indiana farmers worried about what to do with their withered corn crops will gather in Vigo County this week to discuss that and other topics as they try to minimize losses caused by the drought sweeping the state.
Purdue University agricultural experts say crops are just weeks away from being total losses unless significant rainfall occurs. Some crops already are beyond saving.
Only 9 percent of the state's corn crop is considered good to excellent. That's down from 41 percent this time last year.
The damage to the corn crop has raised concerns about how to feed cattle whose pastures are in poor condition.
Some farmers are considering cutting their corn crops to use as cattle feed after getting just one good cutting of hay or alfalfa this year. Hay prices have doubled, and alfalfa in the Lawrence County area is running $12 for a 60-pound bale, Purdue Extension Educator Jim Luzar told the Tribune-Star.
But the lack of moisture in corn plants has caused lethal levels of nitrate to accumulate. The failed crops must be harvested as silage and allowed to ferment so the nitrate dissipates in order to be safe, Luzar said.
Luzar said it's a tough position for farmers who were sitting pretty in May after enjoying good weather that allowed them to get crops in the ground earlier than usual.
"It now looks like the farmers are going to be fighting this cross all the way through," he said.
Luzar said Thursday's meeting will give farmers advice on what to do with their crops and walk them through issues of crop insurance and feeding options.