- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Weeks of rainy, cool weather have left Indiana’s farmers well behind in the spring rush to plant their corn and soybean crops, according to agriculture experts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop report shows that as of Monday, just 45 percent of Indiana’s corn crop and 15 percent of its soybean crop had been planted. Normally, 61 percent of Indiana’s corn and 31 percent of its soybeans are planted by mid-May.

During the week ending May 15, the lack of progress had analysts especially concerned, because only 7 percent of the crop was planted due to muddy and inaccessible fields across the state.

“The rains have certainly been a problem,” said Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist. “A late start doesn’t necessarily mean lower yields, but we have to hope the weather starts to cooperate soon.”

If the damp weather persists, he said some farmers may have to plant shorter-season corn hybrids, which could be less productive than full-season varieties, or soybeans.

Precipitation has been above normal for the past month in nearly all parts of the state, but especially in the southern counties, according to the Purdue University-based Indiana State Climate Office.

Warrick County’s Purdue Extension educator, Amanda Mosiman, said farmers in the state’s particularly rain-sodden southern counties “are understandably stressed” by the delays.

Don Biehle, superintendent of the Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center in Butlerville, said about a quarter-inch of rain fell in the Jennings County township on Tuesday.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but the soil is saturated and we still don’t have the sun and warmer temperatures to dry out the soil,” he said.

The state’s other major grain crop, soybeans, also have been hampered by the wet conditions. Only 15 percent of Indiana’s soybean acreage had been planted as of the May 16 update, compared with a five-year average of 31 percent for the same date, according to the federal crop report.

Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt said there’s “a sense of immediacy” among farmers to get their crops planted soon.

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