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Spring Season Slipping Behind on Planting Quickly

Last year's fast pace makes stark comparison.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

April 26, 2011

2 Min Read

Half of the corn was in the ground in Indiana on this date one year ago. That's the official report from Andy Higgins with the Indiana Ag Statistical Service, located in West Lafayette, Ind. The Indiana group is part of the National Ag Statistics Service.

This year's number is nowhere near that. It's a result of the cool, wet spring which is expected to continue into the short-term. At last word, Ken Scheeringa, assistant ag climatologist for Indiana, located at Purdue University, was saying the cool, wet trend would hold at least through April, if not longer.

"It looks like this is one of those seasons where farmers will be dodging showers to get the crop planted," he says. First, they need a window so soils get dry enough o get a healthy start. Heavy rains over the past 10 days in some part of the state mean many soils still aren't ready. Until they're ready, farmers can't even play dodge ball with the rain showers. It's simply sit, wait, be ready to go, and be patient.

Here's how the 2011 season stacked up to recent seasons as of April 17, just over a week ago, Higgins reports. At that point about 2% of the corn was reported planted statewide. That may seem like too high or too low, depending upon where you live.

It's definitely low compared to last year, which was 15% planted statewide by April 17. The five-year average for amount of corn planted statewide on April 17 was 4%. However, Higgins notes the five-year average is a bit skewed toward the low side. It includes both the seasons of 2007 and 2009, when serious planting delays occurred early in the season.

The real catch is as long as soils stay wet, progress can't be made for this year, and planting slips farther behind. On this date one year ago, 50% of the corn was in the ground statewide. The five-year average, even counting 2007 and 2009, was 14%.

"We're definitely talking about a slow start to the planting season this time around," Higgins says. The data is updated and reported once per week. The five-year average is a rolling average. Current years included in the average include 2006, 2007, 20008, 2009 and 2020.  

Higgins suggests following progress of the planting season through their Web site. Either Google 'Indiana Ag Statistics Service,' or go to the national site at: From there you can maneuver to the Indiana site.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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