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10 ways flood waters affected more than corn and soybeans

10 ways flood waters affected more than corn and soybeans
List of unintended consequences of early and mid-season farm field flooding gets longer by the day.

The record books will show that this will be one of the wettest summers ever across most of Indiana.

The old saying "rain makes grain" needs to be updated. How about "too much rain spells disaster"?

The obvious impact was on corn and soybean fields. Planting was delayed in some areas, and some fields were never planted. Many corn fields were yellow for far too long, and/or uneven with shorter, yellow corn and taller, green patches within the field. Yields will be hurt directly from crop damage due to saturated soils for far too long.

Unintended consequence: Weeds which got out-of-hand due to wet soils will add to the weed seed bank.

Those impacts are obvious. What about impacts which aren't so obvious? Actions have consequences, and in this case, Mother Nature was the actor. You bear the consequences.

10 indirect impacts of wet weather
Here are 10 more indirect potential impacts from this year's growing season that might not be so obvious.

1. Soil compaction: Creating soil compaction isn't usually a big concern in the summer, but it was this year. Farmer with wheat or specialty crops, like green beans, to harvest had little choice. Soil compaction created this year can hang around for several seasons.

2. Bigger weed seed bank: Spraying was late, especially in soybeans. In some cases soybeans were never sprayed. Potential yield loss is obvious. However, if those weeds go to seed, increases in the seed bank will mean fighting more weeds for years to come.

3. More disease inoculum: Dave Nanda, consultant for Seed Consultants, Inc., says inoculum levels were high entering 2015. Diseases are running rampant in some areas again this summer. That could mean fields will be charged with disease inoculum again in 2016.

4. Lower crop quality in wheat: Indiana wheat harvest was delayed so long, especially from Indianapolis northward, that wheat spouted in the head. Some elevators shut off taking any more wheat by July 20. The grower's only recourse may be crop insurance if he has it on wheat. Adjustors say if sprouting was bad enough, yield can be zeroed out.

5. Learn fine print insurance rules the hard way: Crop insurance adjustors say that if you had vomitoxin or sprouting issues with wheat, the policy doesn't kick in unless you follow the right procedures. For vomitoxin that means asking the adjustor to send a sample to a lab they choose. For sprouting wheat, it means having your wheat rejected at two different elevators before insurance can zero out yield.

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6. Higher prices mean less potential farm program payments: Michael Langemeier, a Purdue University Extension ag economist and part of the Center for Commercial Agriculture, says that if crop loss nationwide is significant enough to raise crop prices, there is a downside. Revenue from government program payments will likely be less than expected. Of course, income from grain sales will be higher.

7. Environmental concerns are likely. Don't be surprised if you begin hearing that nitrogen was found in higher levels in creeks carrying water from tile drains this past season. It will be an opportunity to educate non-farmers about how Mother Nature still rules.

8. Gullies will need fixing in areas where heavy rains and flash floods caused damage. This may require physical dirt moving, even in no-till fields.

9. Poor hay quality: One farmer waited seven weeks to cut his second cutting of alfalfa, simply because he had no choice. Another farmer cut his, leaving ruts, only to have Mother Nature cross him up and deliver rain on the hay anyway. Watch for rising hay prices.

10. Education under fire on crop insurance: If you are in a hard hit area and you aren't on a first-name basis with your crop insurance agent, you likely will be soon. Figuring losses, seeing how good fields offset bad fields where both are in the same crop insurance unit and the like will help you learn more than you ever wanted to know about crop insurance.

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