One year ago farmers had their fingers crossed that crops would mature in time before frost. A screwy planting season and June flooding meant lots of replanting and late planting. Well, they got their wise, Not only was August and September warm, and a bit too dry for some, frost was later than normal across most of the state.
If they had their fingers crossed last year, they must have their fingers and toes crossed this year. Just plain wet soils due to continuing rains led to late planting in all bet a few pockets of the state. Then the weather turned cool in July. If someone was running around claiming man was causing global cooling, it would certainly be more believable this summer than the theory that there is global warming.
July was so cool in fact that Ken Scheeringa, Indiana assistant ag climatologist, said it shattered all the records, becoming the coolest July on the record books, dating back to the late 1800's when such records were first kept. That refers to an average temperature. In fact, it was more than 5 degrees below normal, on average, for the month. This July easily shot past eh previous recordholder- 1957.
Cool weather with moisture usually makes for grain. Jim Newman, retired ag climatologist and Purdue University agronomist, showed that in a study of more than 20 seasons he did in the '70s and '80s. If it was a cool, wet summer, USDS projections went up almost every time from their initial estimate in August to the final report for the year. Conversely, if it was dry and hot, yield estimates went down almost every time from, the first crop report through the last report on the year.
What's tricky this time, however, is that many crops were planted so late. Heat finally returned last week, but will it last long enough to deliver mature crops. Indiana state climatologist Dev Niyogi is expecting that frost could be somewhat earlier than normal this time around, although it's too early to make specific forecasts. Frost is a very difficult animal to get a handle on, since so many factors impact whether or not it will actually be a frost strong enough to kill plants and end the growing season in any particular cold weather outbreak.
Time will tell. Agronomists claim the crop needs about 55 days, plus or minus, to reach black layer, or 32 to 35% moisture and be physiological mature, after pollination. That means some fields will be pushing the calendar hard, even if frost comes at a normal date for the area.