The trouble with judging crop conditions is that most of the time, the whole state or country isn't experiencing the same weather conditions that you are. That was a real problem last year, when many areas were hit with drought and heat, while a select few got rain on a timely basis.
Jim Newman, retired Purdue University ag meteorologist, always says, "You can't judge the national corn crop based on what's happening outside your back door, or on the 40 acres around your house." That's because you may get a skewed view of what's happening by only looking through the back door.
To help your information gathering about crop conditions, look for Friday Field Walk, a new feature on this Website appearing every other week starting May 3 and finishing up in the fall.
A team of volunteers, mostly farmers, will report from six locations in three states – Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Jennifer Vincent, editor of Michigan Farmer, will coordinate this project.
Participating from Indiana will be Bill Pickart, northern Indiana, and Jim Facemire, south-central Indiana.
Facemire and family farm near Edinburgh in southern Johnson County. He has a good handle on a variety of conditions because he farms a variety of soils – from those with drainage problems to loams over gravel. He irrigates some of the droughty fields, but not all of them. He also grows seed corn on some of the acres.
Facemire has installed irrigation rigs steadily during his 35-year farming career. There was a big payoff last year for irrigation, even though running the systems was costly, he notes. Loams over gravel at three feet yielded as little as five bushels per acre without extra water last year. In a good year with plenty of rain, those same fields can yield 170 bushels per acre or more, he notes.