A road trip last week revealed a striking difference in crop conditions for southern Indiana vs. northern Indiana. The break roughly runs along a jagged line a bit north of Interstate 70.
North of the line, based on observations by Indiana Prairie Farmer staff, the main observation is that some crops are smaller than usual. Most planting appears complete, however. In some locations, especially in northwest Indiana,. There are sizable drowned-out low spots form heavy rains in late May, before the 'big flood' hit southern Indiana.
Late planting and drowned –out spots, in what are typically the best areas in normal to drier years, will no doubt take its toll. But it's nothing like the picture driving south to Martinsville, and even North Vernon, St. Paul in Shelby County, and Greensburg. And from other reports, some of those areas likely don't compare to the devastation in Greene, Owen, Sullivan and Knox Counties, where the White and Wabash Rivers crested at record or near-record levels.
Traveling from Richmond west and then anywhere south, the problem is that even if corn was planted somewhat on time, likely in early May, fields are uneven, often with huge yellow areas within the field. Many of these areas, especially south of Interstate 70, took on heavy rains in early June, and even though the corn is there, it's definitely got ground to make up to achieve even average yields.
Heading southeast, rainfall totals were hefty but not overwhelming, and they've escaped major flooding, at least below Greensburg. The problem there is late, late planting due to wet soils all spring long. Those soils tend to be wet anyway, and this type of spring typically doesn't bring bumper crops to southeast Indiana.
For much of the central and southwest counties, rain may make grain, but not if the corn that produces the grain isn't there. If it's drowned out and becomes effectively acres lost, it will be hard for surviving areas within fields to compensate, even if rains continue at critical times.
That's where the other shoe could drop. There's no guarantee that rains will continue for the critical pollination period for late-planted crops. It's likely to be pushed back into late July or even early August for corn planted in late May, or replant corn that went in yet last week. That stretch historically is the driest, hottest period of the year in Indiana. But there's nothing typical about this year so far, so perhaps there is hope!
If you farm in northern Indiana and continue to hear reports about the terrible flooding and crop loss that national reporters discuss in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, believe it. Reports coming in indicate there is tremendous crop loss. However, it's a travesty not to include southern, and even central, Indiana in the same reports. Lost corn and ruined equipment hurts just as much for Hoosiers as it does where the flooding is more dramatic because rivers are larger.