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INFB Members: We've Seen Some Dramatic Weather Changes
Indiana Ag Connection - 05/18/2017

Indiana crop farmers have been battling extreme rain and cold temperatures since late April. Indiana Farm Bureau spoke to several corn and soybean farmers in various counties across the state to learn how the weather has affected this planting season.

While the amount of corn and soybeans planted so far varies drastically depending on the farm, it appears that an average of roughly 50 percent of Indiana corn and soybean crops have been planted, with some farmers reporting that they are 100 percent complete and others reporting less than 30 percent complete.

"Weather across the state was ideal for crop farmers for most of April, but heavy rains followed by cooler temperatures brought Indiana farmers to a halt," said Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau president. "Soil conditions were nearly perfect for planting when our farmers began, but we saw some dramatic weather changes before the first of May."

Rainfall varied across the state, but no areas were immune to the large amount of rain the Midwest has seen since late April.

"We've seen roughly 8 inches of rain since April 22. When we get close to drying out, we just get more," said Jordan Brewer of Brewer Farms in Clinton County.

"We had nearly 12 inches of rain in 10 days in the southwestern part of the state. To compound the problem, we had cold weather following the rain," said Kevin Cox of TST Farms in Parke County.

However, some farmers say that the continuation of rain which most of the state saw during the second week of May did less harm than one might think.

"The past week has been almost ideal considering our current situation," explained Cox. "We needed the ground to stay soft so it did not create a crust and the temperatures to rise and that's what we've seen. It's important to keep the ground soft while growing--especially at the beginning."

Indiana crop farmers are discussing the potential need to replant sections of their fields that were most impacted by the weather, but of those interviewed by Indiana Farm Bureau, most say that they're hopeful that the damage has been limited to small sections of their fields.

"We have some areas where the water is gathering, so I suspect those select areas will need to be replanted," said Brewer.

"I've been out with my son walking the fields this week and what I've seen is that the seeds are still viable. I haven't found any dead corn kernels or any dead plants," said Cox.

With replanting comes a series of complex decisions for crop farmers such as whether or not to adjust crop maturities when planting later in the spring than originally planned. Hoosier farmers also expect that in some cases, the seeds they prefer to plant may no longer be available in mid-May.

"When we planted the first time, we planted the elite hybrids that we prefer. I expect that the supply of those elite hybrids is used up now," said Cox. "Trying to get seeds supplied in what you want this late in the season is challenging. That's another part of the problem of replanting."

Others are grateful that they've invested in drainage tile as fields with proper drainage systems are less affected by heavy rains.

"The big plus for us is that our ground is well-tiled, so I'm not anticipating that I will need to replant," said David Miers of Miers Farm Corporation in Decatur County. "We are probably a little better off than most in southeast Indiana because of our drainage system, but when it comes to soybeans, we really can't tell what kind of damage is done until we see some growth."

One thing that most farmers can agree on is that there is no typical year in the life of a farmer.

"As farmers, we take the years as they come, deal with the situation as best as we can and try to stay positive," said Miers.

"Regardless of how good of a job we do as farmers, the one thing we depend on is the weather and that is also the one thing we cannot control," said Cox.

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