Indiana Struggles with "Ragged" Corn Crop

June 27, 2017 09:27 AM

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), about half of the Indiana corn crop is rated good to excellent, and soybeans aren’t in much better shape.

The crops are variable in Kokomo, Ind., roughly 60 miles north of Indianapolis.

“One word could describe this growing season thus far and that’s ‘challenge,’” said Mike Silver, senior grain merchandiser for Kokomo Grain. 

Crop conditions within a matter of miles range from ankle-tall corn to plants at chest height. Some soybeans are flowering while some have been replanted many times. 

Farmers say the planting date varied from April to June, and it can be seen in the fields. 

“The Indiana crops are as ragged as I’ve seen them in my lifetime,” said Silver. 

He says the temperatures turned cold and the area had extreme rainfall in April and May, well over the area’s average.

“I would estimate that 35 to 40 percent of the corn crop was replanted at least once,” said Silver.  “Some of it [has been replanted] twice or three times.” 

Silver says he’s been traveling extensively across the state, visiting different locations. He believes it’s not just his location that’s struggling. 

In USDA’s last crop progress report, 46 percent of Indiana corn and 51 percent of the state’s soybean crop is rated good to excellent. 

“If anything, USDA may have us rated a little higher than we actually are,” said Silver. 

“You didn’t have to travel that far to see that kind of variation,” said Howard Eller, a farmer from Howard County, Ind. 

Eller says the area saw different amounts of rainfall. 

“The last field of corn I planted the last Wednesday in April, it rained about four inches over the next 24 to 36 hours,” said Eller. “I know a guy who lives south of me [and he] received eight inches of rain. He had to replant the whole field.

He is lucky because he only replanted sections of low spots in his fields. Fortunately, he planted early which may have saved some top-end.

“Each field has some problems, probably ranging anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of the field is not going to produce very much crop,” said Eller. 

He says the crop needs some growing degree days and moderate rainfall to finish out. He says soybeans hold more promise in his area. 

“The soybeans probably really have the potential to probably be pretty good depending on how the fall comes with the later planted beans,” said Eller. 

Yet, this year’s struggle is much more than crop condition. Silver says farmers are feeling the financial pressure as well. 

“I’m also in the crop insurance business and the replant claims this year are the highest I’ve ever seen,” said Silver. “Typically, we do not get replants in this area. If we do, they are very small acreages.” 

There’s still time to produce a crop, but farmers are wishing the worst is over during this growing season while praying for a late frost. 

“Again, it’s going to be a challenging summer as we advance,” said Silver.

The area has received rainfall in amounts ranging from a half inch to nearly four inches in a 20 mile radius around Kokomo just after our visit. Silver said he anticipated more soybean acres in the area this year.

Now, he expects even more soybeans since some farmers switched last minute or replanted corn into soybeans due to a wet spring. 

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