The first time Tony Vyn said it, I thought he was joking. I asked him to repeat it. He said the same thing the second time. He notes that in some areas the drought and extreme heat was so severe that it may have forced irrigators to decide whether to try to keep all the corn under the pivot alive but suffering, or let part of the irrigated actress go and irrigate as many acres as possible properly, with the full amount of rainfall needed.
Vyn, a Purdue University, a Purdue University Extension tillage specialist, was serious. The point was that even irrigators couldn't keep up and apply enough water as the field needed during the most extreme periods. One reason is because under the extreme temperatures, corn was using about 0.4 inches of water per day. the normal rate is closer to 0.2.
When you're losing 0.4 inches per day and need four days to apply an inch, for example, you simply can't keep up, he notes. By the time you've applied irrigation water on the entire area under the pivot, you're already more efficient and needed to start it all over again.
How many people actually followed his strategy is unclear, but it's likely several people who found themselves not keeping up at least considered it.
A large amount of the seed corn grown in Indiana is under irrigation, but not all of it. The problem with irrigated seed corn in a year like this one, one irrigator notes, is that when you have to shut off the irrigation for crews to detassel, you lose valuable time when you should be spreading water on the crop. It only puts you farther behind.
If there's a saving grace in all this, it's that many wells are deep and into good aquifers. A few stories have surfaced of someone irrigating and affecting their neighbor's well, but there were usually unique circumstances involved.