Planting Yet to Go?

Late rains shut down planting action. Tom J. Bechman

Published on: Jun 7, 2004

Memorial Day weekend wasn't joyous and relaxing for every farmer in Indiana. There were, and still possibly are, Hoosiers with crops yet to plant, particularly soybeans. And we're not talking double-crop soybeans either.

One farmer in central Indiana still had 400 acres to plant. His farm was hit by heavy rains earlier in May than many others. And another farmer was waiting to plant 60 acres. However, his reasoning was a bit tougher to follow. Apparently, he and his family sat and waited when it got very dry in late April to early May. They were concerned that it would be a problem getting a stand if they planted into dry soil.

"I never worry about planting into dry soil, especially at that time of year," one farmer told us. "When it rains, they will come up. They certainly won't grow if they are still in the bag."

While early planting would seem to be making many farmers look good, there are those who have suffered flooding and crop loss on those already-planted fields, particularly in southern Indiana. One Gibson County farmer told us three weeks ago that he was holding off planting his bottomland soybeans. He must have had connections upstairs!

Jim Newman claims his connections are no better than about 60% when forecasting out two to three months in advance this time of year. With his 60%, the independent ag climatologist, based in West Lafayette, Ind., is looking for a shift soon, particularly in southern Indiana. He expects early to mid-summer to be on the dry side across the southern reaches of the Corn Belt, including southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Farther north, he looks for normal to above normal rainfall during the period. Temperatures are likely to average above normal across both areas.

If his forecast proves right, early-planted corn not damaged by flooding may have an advantage when it comes time to pollinate. Projections show some of the earliest corn pollinated by the Fourth of July. Odds favor somewhat cooler weather than compared to two to three weeks later, at least historically speaking.