Wet spring slows field preparation for Indiana farmers

April 20, 2015

Indiana farmers are preparing for some "hectic" days ahead as they make up delays caused by wet fields from persistent rains earlier this month.

Wet conditions throughout most of Indiana are delaying field work, according to Bob Nielson, a professor of agronomy and corn specialist at Purdue University.

"For some guys it's very frustrating this spring," he said. "Because of the wet conditions last fall, they were not able to get the fertilizer in. They're chomping at the bit."

Brian Bays, who farms several hundred acres in Madison County, told The Herald Bulletin that heavy farming equipment can compact wet soil and hurt the fall harvest. He said he hasn't been able to apply fertilizer or prepare fields for planting because of wet conditions.

"It will mean longer days to make up for the missed time," he said. "It will be a hectic work schedule."

But there's good news, too. Bays said he isn't behind on planting yet, and Nielson said the planting date isn't a great predictor of harvest yields.

"A late planting is not an automatic kiss of death," Nielson said.

He told WLFI-TV that despite delays in planting corn and soybeans last year, "We ended up with record crops on both of those."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that Indiana had just 1.7 days between March 31 and April 4 that were suitable for field work. The agency noted that corn and soybean planting has been delayed by persistent rainfall.

"Many fields have ponded from increased rainfall, making fieldwork difficult," the agency said in a report.

A recent study by Indiana University's Kelley School of Business found that agricultural industries contribute more than $44 million to the state's economy.


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