Leaves curl tightly on drought-stressed corn in a Tippecanoe County, Ind. field. A majority of Indiana is in severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Indiana crop conditions continue to deteriorate daily as the drought worsens to a level not seen since 1988, Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen said July 5.
The state’s corn crop has fallen off such that only 19% was rated good to excellent by the USDA, Nielsen said during a news conference at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. As of July 1, more than 90% of the crop acres were rated as short to very short for soil moisture.
As a majority of the corn crop enters the crucial and sensitive pollination period, there is little chance for recovery, Nielsen said. Without rain and cooler temperatures, he said, corn could lose up to 10% yield potential daily.
"A break in the drought and heat for the remainder of the season would certainly minimize further deterioration of the corn crop but would not result in recovery to anywhere close to normal yields," he said.
Rain that parts of Indiana received in the past week prevented the drought from worsening, but more rain more often would be needed to bring the state out of drought. Most of the state continued to experience various intensity of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor update on Thursday. The southwest and northeast remained in extreme drought, the second-highest level of drought.
Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt estimated that as of July 1, Indiana had already lost 20% of the expected corn yields - down to 133 bushels per acre, compared with 166 expected at spring planting.
Soybeans fared slightly better in the yield projections, down 15% at 41.3 bushels per acre instead of 48.6 bushels expected early in the season. Part of the reason is because soybeans still have time to recover somewhat with a return to more normal rainfall.
"Soybean yields are significantly related to August temperatures and precipitation," Hurt said. "There is still potential for yield recovery in soybeans up until late July and even into August."
Commodity markets already have taken notice of the projected yield losses. At the end of trading on Tuesday (July 3), corn cash prices were up about 27%, and soybean prices were up about 5%.
But Hurt said that might not be enough to compensate producers’ lost farm income from low yields.
"Indiana is the worst hit of the major corn and soybean states," he said. "This is a situation where Indiana’s average yield losses might not be compensated by high enough prices, and revenues can fall sharply - a potentially difficult financial situation."