(West Lafayette, Ind.) – Wet fields are keeping many Indiana farmers from being as busy as they’d like this time of year.
Hoosier farmers are usually well into planting their crops by early May. That hasn’t been the case this year, largely due to a rainy planting season.
According to a May 6 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only about eight percent of Indiana’s corn crop has been sown. That’s up from 1 percent a week earlier, but way behind the 82 percent that was planted this time last year. It also lags behind the five-year average of 41 percent by the end of May’s first week.
Most of the delay has been in northern and central regions, where seven and six percent of corn has been planted. Southern Indiana has fared better with 15 percent in the ground.
Only a minimal number of soybean fields have been planted as of May 6, the USDA report said.
Purdue University agronomists warn farmers to be careful to not be tempted to try and plant when fields are still too wet.
"Just because the tractor doesn't get stuck doesn't mean you should be out there," says agronomist Tony Vyn. "The problem is that tilling wet soils can cause compaction. You can lose a lot more yield with compaction than with delayed planting.”
Vyn says anxious corn growers should plan to postpone spring tillage until that field is within a day of the intended planting time, especially in fine soils where the risk of erosion, gullies and soil crusting is highest.
Wet field conditions could continue for the near future. The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio is forecasting a chance of rain between 30 and 70 percent through Saturday in southeast Indiana.