According to USDA’s Crop Progress report, Indiana corn planting is slightly ahead of the five-year average while soybean planting is on par. However, not every area in the state is ready for plant 2017.
Some Indiana farmers have been busy planting while others are waiting on their chance to get in the fields.
“We’re behind,” said Jim Smith, a producer from Grabill, Ind. “We’re not behind the eight ball yet, but we’re behind.”
Soils are still damp in Grabill.
“We’re wet, but with sun, that will dry us out before too long and we will get the planters rolling,” said Smith.
Smith worked ground for alfalfa last week, but rain put fieldwork to a stop.
“The biggest deal is that we’ve had a rain event and then another rain event that’s kept us out of the field long enough to not get anything accomplished,” said Smith.
Like other Indiana farmers hugging the Ohio border, Smith has more on his mind this year than the date on the calendar.
“We got 2015, a year where we only planted 40 percent of our crop,” said Smith. “Last year we were in that micro-drought so we didn’t have APH yields on corn. We’re anxious for a good growing season for 2017.”
It’s more pressure on farmers to have a good year.
“As I talk to the banker I use for our lending needs, there’s some concern among his friends and colleagues,” said Smith. “If we don’t have a good year, there will probably be some people who get out. That’s strictly rumor, but the banking community in our area is watching it.”
To help some of that stress, Smith is taking wheat completely out of the equation and forward contracting a substantial amount of soybeans.
“A $10 soybean guarantee on insurance is pretty nice but we’re heavy soybeans with how the rotation worked,” said Smith.
Smith is not skimping on inputs.
“We are probably going to do somethings we didn’t do last year,” he said. “We didn’t put fungicide on soybeans or corn last year and I think that really hurt us.”
It’s a very different situation in Franklin, Ind. Scott Henderson, a farmer, was busy putting down anhydrous ammonia with his family early April.
“I’d say it’s been about right,” said Henderson. “We have enough to fill our soil reserve.”
Since then, he’s started to plant in mid-April, which is right on time. Over half of his corn and a third of his beans are in the ground. The fields became too dry before last week’s rain pushed them out of the field.
“To have a good start, we need sunshine, no rain and good faith,” said Henderson.
Henderson is not swayed by price this year. He’s sticking with his regular 50-50 corn and soybean rotation.
“I don’t want beans on beans,” said Henderson. “I know things are getting better technology-wise, but we’ve had three years of 70-bushel bean averages and that has to change. We’re due for another dry year, at least in August.”
As Smith stands on a field left bare in 2015, it’s a reminder of past planting challenges but it also lends optimism to the future.