ANDERSON — Fluffy, cottonball-like clouds float lazily above the corn and soybean fields along County Road 400 West. The picturesque scene is not what area farmers want to see.
“The soybeans need a drink pretty bad right now,” said Matt Edwards, assistant grain merchandiser for Harvest Land Co-Op Inc.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting the hot, dry weather conditions to continue across the state into September offering little relief in the form of rain.
Edwards said the unusually dry conditions in August are threatening crop yields. He said the plants look good, but the weather conditions can stunt crop growth and reduce the yields, which can result in higher prices in food and fuel prices based on production.
According to the Indiana Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, only scattered showers were seen across the state resulting in topsoil moisture being depleted and irrigation systems “were running full force to try to keep up with the lack of rainfall.”
Greg Matli, Indiana’s USDA statistician, said last week the corn condition was rated at 72 percent good to excellent compared to 10 percent last year, but that percentage is down 4 percent from two weeks ago. Soybean conditions were rated at 67 percent good to excellent compared with 23 percent last year, but that percentage is down 7 percent from last year.
“Right now the corn is trying to shut down and survive,” said Andy Clock, assistant agronomy manager for Rydman Fox Inc. “The corn is in a later stage of development so a lack of rain will not hurt its final yield. Soybeans can still go up or down at this point.”
Clock said the Anderson area is doing better than most of the Midwest when it comes to crops and farmers will have better crops than last year, but conditions could be better.
“This heat is putting tremendous stress on the crops,” he said. “But that can change in a hurry. We are very fortunate in this area. We seem to get a rain when we need it.”
About 2 inches of rain is needed to help the crops, but popup showers will not be enough to help replace soil moisture, Clock said.
“The sooner the better,” he said. “Every day we go without rain, the crops continue to be under stress.”
Edwards said the only positive aspect to the current weather pattern is that the heat is helping to dry out crops.
“Earlier this spring we thought the corn was going to be wet, but with this heat we will be saving on costs for drying.”
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