One farmer reported a week ago that he only ha a 100 acres of corn planted, with over a 1,000 acres of row crops yet to go. It wasn't because he wasn't ready. The early delays rest squarely on the fact that he's caught showers others have missed, plus his land is on the wet side. Since much of it is rented and someday may wind up in development, it's also not tiled for good drainage to the extent the farmer would like. In springs like this one is turning out to be, that's a big negative.
Yet two days later a seedsman in north-central Indiana reported most farmers in his area had their corn planted, or nearly so. In fact, many were well along with soybeans, if not finished. Some folks in that area start soybean planters or drills rolling at the same time the cornplanter rolls. Others simply caught enough weather breaks early that they've been able to finish corn planting and make headway on soybean planting as well.
Things were looking good for the southwestern Indiana farmer we talked to last week, although he still had corn to plant. And that was before the back half of last week turned to the wet and miserable side. He has some river bottom land, but was thinking it wouldn't be a problem to get it planted this year. His attitude may have changed after rainfall mid-last week proved heavier than most were hoping. In fact, most farmers were hoping it was the rain that would miss Indiana, but it didn't. Instead, coverage was relatively widespread, followed by dreary and cooler weather over the past few days.
Corn that is up in our seedsman's area could use a big dose of heat units, he notes. Some planted in mid-April laid in the ground for a while before it emerged. Some of the corn up in his area shows a yellowish cast, waiting for better weather to get growing again.
While Elwynn Taylor, the Iowa State University ag climatologist, says it's still not certain what the La Nina event will do, and when it will die off, the spring seems to be setting up as many La Nina springs do. Drought risk is up, although far from probable, he says, partly because of the La Nina that still exists, but also because of other relationships and factors. One of those is the fact that droughts that move into the Corn Belt often follow drought the year before in South Carolina. South Carolina experienced drought last year.
Georgia did as well, but Taylor says droughts in that part of the south correlate less with later droughts in the Corn Belt than do droughts that originate in South Carolina the year before. While Georgia is dry, part of the hype comes from the fact that reservoirs serving Atlanta are very low. "That's partly a man-made situation," he notes. "The area has tripled in population over the past forty years, but they're still serving it with about the same water supply that they used four decades ago."
Nevertheless, while it's dry now, Taylor says it's worth keeping an eye on possible drought yet this summer.