News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 24, 2014

Farmers in final push to plant corn

Cool, wet weather has led to some delays in fields

TERRE HAUTE — Rain has delayed the final push to plant corn, creating a two-month planting season in the Wabash Valley.

Cooler temperatures have also impacted corn already planted, with several fields displaying yellow leaves instead of a dark green.

“Most of that is not nitrogen loss, it is the cool temperatures,” said Jim Luzar, extension educator for Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service’s Vigo County office. “The plant is just not photosynthesizing at its optimal level to make the good green-colored leaves full with chlorophyll.”

There were 1.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending May 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Statewide, 42 percent of the corn crop has emerged, which is 3 percent better than the 5-year average. Indiana and the nation match at 33 percent of soybeans planted.

Temperatures ranged from 30 degrees to 87 degrees statewide, with precipitation varying statewide from 1.1 inches to 5.22 inches. In Terre Haute, temperatures ranged from 82 degrees to 37 degrees, with 1.73 inches of rainfall over five days, reported at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

Among the big “I”s, Indiana overall has 72 percent of its corn planted, Illinois and Iowa each have 84 percent of the corn crop planted as of this week, according to the AGWEB from Farm Journal.

“At the end of April and in the first week of May, we had a real good run of planting progress,” Luzar said. “We have a tremendous capacity to get a lot of acres planted in a short period of time, but the problem is when we do get these wet spells, we have a lot soil in the Wabash Valley that does not dry out quickly.”

“With the cooler temperatures and the intermittent rain, with both combined, the soil doesn’t dry out quickly. Those heavy clay soils still have many aces that are not planted yet because of the cool, wet conditions,” Luzar said.

That’s the case for Vigo County farmer Terry Hayhurst.

With clay soil on his farm, Hayhurst said he has had to work from rainstorm to rainstorm to try to complete planting.

“Clay soil holds moisture which is great for the summer, but in the spring of the year it is more frustrating because it takes a while to dry out,” Hayhurst said.  “We have a third of corn yet to plant and all of the soybeans still yet to go,” Hayhurst said.

Hayhurst said he is not concerned about planting beans, which can be done up to mid June, but with corn, delays in planting could reduce yields.

Luzar said that while there are many varying factors, “on average every day it doesn’t get planted at this point with corn, you are losing less than a bushel per day of yield per acre. At $5 a bushel, that is $5 an acre and if you have 400 acres to plant of corn, that is $2,000 a day that you are potentially losing,” Luzar said.

However, poor weather early does not guarantee end-of-year results. “We could have an ideal growing season the rest of the year and have optimal corn yields. Most of the corn crop for the area just needs some warm weather at this point,” Luzar said.

“For what still has to be planted, if we could get three to four days of good planting conditions across the Wabash Valley, we could get this 2014 crop in the ground and finished,” Luzar said.

“The majority of the crop is planted, it is just the aggravation of trying to get finished up,” Luzar said.

Hayhurst said he has not hit “the panic button” yet, even for corn that is planted later “it will grow a litter faster than what it does if it is planted earlier. So even though we lose some days on the front end, we gain them back because the plant automatically responds to a little later planting date, especially corn,” Hayhurst said.

“If it can dry up in the next few days to where we can get in after the first of this week and get corn planted and not have some stresses on it, yields can be just as good, I think,” Hayhurst said.

“I think in the next few days with warmer temps into the 80s, the corn will really start to grow,” Hayhurst said, a 30-year farmer who knows first hand that each growing season has is own challenges.

“Every year is different. I would love to have it done and have it all planted timely, but you know that doesn’t happen very often,” Hayhurst said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or

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