SOUTHERN INDIANA — Charlestown farmer Adam Allgeier has never planted corn this late in the year.
Normally, he has all of his corn crops planted by mid-May. But this year, persistent rainy weather has set him behind in planting both his corn and soybean crops, so he is still planting into June.
"You can't get a whole lot done with the rains we've been getting," he said. "There's been rain every couple days ... it's usually enough, with an inch here and an inch there, to keep you out of the field for a couple days, and then it rains again."
Farmers in Southern Indiana, as well as other parts of the state and the Midwest, have seen major planting delays due to months of consistent rain, which have prevented fields from drying out in time for farmers plant crops in the usual late April to May window. Only 22 percent of the state's corn crop and 11 percent of its soybean crop has been planted so far this year, while it would normally be at 85 percent of the corn crop and 63 percent of the soybean crop planted at this time of year, according to a May 28 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Simon Kafari, educator for Clark County Purdue Extension, said the crop planting delays in Southern Indiana are similar to what the rest of the state is experiencing. While last year's rains affected local corn and soybean crops, it was not nearly as problematic as this year's continuous wet spells, he said, and many farmers in the county still had not planted large percentages of their fields as of last Friday.
The late planting isn't the only harmful effect that the rain could have on crop yields, Kafari said.
"Because of the rain, other factors such as a lot of weeds, diseases, insects and the crop being delayed to the hot part of the year — all those things contribute [to crop yield], so that's why it's so important to plant early," he said. "Planting late just exposes farmers to all those other factors."
Gina Anderson, educator for the Floyd County Purdue Extension, said she knows crop planting is down in Floyd County, but she doesn't know by how much. She is concerned about the effects the rain and the delays will have on this year's harvest.
"If they don't get in their crop, they have nothing to harvest," she said. "So there's a financial worry — if they can't get the crop in, they can't make money. There's going to be the worry then for the people who do get their crop in — we've got all this rain right now, but when we get to July, are we going to have an issue with drought?"
In addition to concerns about their yields, approaching insurance deadlines are also of concern for Indiana farmers. According to the the USDA's Risk Management Agency, the final planting dates for corn crop insurance is June 5 in Indiana, and the final planting dates for soybean crop insurance is June 20. Farmers can still receive insurance for crops planted for about 20 to 25 days following those dates, but the acres planted in that window would receive 1 percent less coverage for each day after the final planting date.
Molly Zentz, Indiana Farm Bureau senior public relations manager, said insured farmers can file a prevented planting insurance claim if they are unable to plant some of their land due to weather, whether it is portions of their fields or entire fields. The amount of payout varies depending on the insurance company.
Farmers could also receive weather-related assistance from the USDA's Market Facilitation Program, according to Zentz. She said farmers would receive assistance only for land that they attempt to plant, but they will not receive anything from the program if they do not place any seed in the ground.
HOPING FOR THE BEST
Allgeier said typically by the end of May, he has all of his corn and most of his soybeans planted, but he lost about 21 days due to the wet conditions. Last year, he planted his corn in an eight-day window and finished around May 10.
On Monday afternoon, he still had another 60 acres of corn left to plant out of a planned 225 acres, and he still had to plant about 250 acres of soybeans out of a planned 280 acres. Although he expected to be finished with corn planting by Monday evening, he said he will not be able to plant corn in 5 acres due to the saturation of the ground.
"We can't control the weather, so we all sit back and wait," Allgeier said. "It's going to make for a late harvest. Instead of us starting harvest into September, it will probably be more like middle of October before we get started.
Allgeier said while he is concerned about the success of his corn and soybean yield this year, including corn plants that might have rotted in the ground due to wet conditions, he just is going to plant the rest of his fields and hope for the best.
Marysville farmer Terry Vissing, who plants corn and soybeans on more than 1,000 acres, said this spring has been horrible for planting due to the delays. He has planted a third of his soybeans, and while he has planted about 95 percent of his corn, he is about three weeks behind, and he might need to replant some of the corn crop due to wet conditions. In addition to wet grounds, he is fighting additional weeds due to the late planting.
"I’ve been farming since the early '70s, and I’ve never seen anything much worse than this," Vissing said. "Now, we’ve had times when we’ve gotten two or three weeks of wet [weather], then it would dry up and be OK, but this is just staying with us."
Now, he is worried that the area will see rain later this week, which could push his planting back even further and possibly lead him to make a prevented planting insurance claim if his corn isn't completely planted on time. He said while farmers might typically switch from corn to soybeans after hitting June 10, he expects many to file prevented planting claim instead if the rain continues, particularly with the ongoing trade war's affect on soybean prices.
Vissing said it is likely more profitable to grow corn, so many farmers are hoping to get plenty of the crop in the ground.
"Seeing as it's a trade issue with the beans, we’re really fighting to get more corn planted, but the weather has hindered that," he said.
Vissing said if he plants past June 5, there is a bigger chance that an early frost could severely damage crops, and higher moisture in corn could also lead to higher drying costs.
"It’s pretty tough right now," Vissing said. "The weather has got us right up against the insurance date. It’s a date that basically tells you if you don’t have your corn planted by then, you’re probably not going to do well anyway."