(Vevay, Ind.) - Less than an inch of rain in September has Indiana crops producing varied yields, but a better product.
The Purdue University Extension Office has been tracking farmers around the state as they continue to harvest crops earlier than usual.
Many area farmers began harvesting their crops weeks ago because plants grew quickly throughout the summer allowing corn and soybeans to mature sooner.
About 27 percent of Indiana’s corn crops have been taken in as of Sept. 20 well ahead of the six percent average most years. A Purdue report also showed that 88 percent of corn was mature, compared with last year's 13 percent and the five-year average of 44 percent.
The National Weather Service says most of southeast Indiana has seen between 0.25 and one inch of rain over the past 30 days.
Not only are farmers harvesting sooner, they are largely seeing a better quality of corn thanks in part to the lack of rain. Dry fields mean a smaller likelihood that corn will develop ear rot or other diseases. Farmers will also save time and money by avoiding the need to mechanically dry grain.
"We had a high amount of ear rot last year, causing problems with storage," said Bob Nielsen, professor of agronomy with the Purdue Extension. "We didn't have as much this year. That, combined with early harvest, contributes to higher quality."
Soy beans face a couple hurdles as they are harvested this fall. Beans may experience a lower test weight because of less precipitation. Diseases called sudden death syndrome and brown stem rot have been common.
If the dry spell continues in Indiana, farmers could have their crops completely harvested by early October. In 2009, some farmers in Dearborn County were harvesting up until Thanksgiving.
Lack of rain has been detrimental to some plant growth. Hay could be at a premium this year because fescue fields have been dormant.
Purdue University Extension - http://www.ag.purdue.edu/extension/Pages/default.aspx