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Rains Leave Many Indiana Farmers Well Behind In Planting

Samantha Horton/IPB News

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — Persistent wet weather has put many Indiana farmers well behind in getting their crops in the fields and has some wondering whether to even plant corn because it requires a longer growing season to reach maturity.

Kent Chism, who's farmed for most of his life in north-central Indiana's Howard County, said this is the most delayed planting season he's seen. With rain chances in the forecast for the rest of the week, he said it will be sometime in June before soggy fields dry out enough to support planting machinery.

"It's never been the case where we didn't have anything planted until June," Chism told the Kokomo Tribune on Tuesday.

The federal government's weekly crop report for Indiana shows that just 22 percent of Indiana's corn acreage had been planted as of Sunday, which was far behind the five-year average of 85 percent that's normally planted by that date.

Only 11 percent of Indiana's soybeans are in the ground, putting that crop well behind the five-year late May planting average of 63 percent.

The planting delays mean some farmers are now weighing their options, including whether or not to plant corn, which takes longer to mature than soybeans and needs to be planted earlier to reach maturity before fall frosts end the growing season.

An analysis by Purdue University shows that corn planted on June 10 could have a 20% lower yield.

Ken Shrock, a 65-year-old who farms near the Miami County town of Bunker Hill, is considering forgoing any planting to avoid losing money this season.

"It's just throwing good money after bad," he said. "You're going to have a bad yield and terrible prices, so what's the use? Unless you've got good crop insurance, you're in trouble."

On June 5, farmers with federal crop insurance who have not planted any corn can take a payment that hands out 55% of the guaranteed corn revenue price set by the insurance plan. The Purdue analysis estimates that payment would be about $375 per acre.

Mathias Ingle, a Howard County extension educator, said some farmers are considering taking the reduced insurance payout in hopes of turning a profit.

"If they cross that point of no return, they'll either have to plant soybeans or in extreme circumstances, collect the insurance money," Ingle said.