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Farmers out of rain, but not the woods

The weather has rebounded and farmers are retaking the fields that were usurped when April showers brought May and even more showers.
In Kentucky, farmers reported as many as 20 inches of rain during a six-week period beginning May 1, but Indiana had about half as much rain and was expected to soak up the extra rainfall quickly. Regardless, damage had been done.
Falling in the middle geographically, Kentuckiana received a median level of rainfall.
By June 16, Louisville had received .6 more inches of rain than normal for the month. May was the real departure, with 7.66 inches or 2.78 inches more than normal, the National Weather Service said.
‘Because of good frost activity and low rainfall over the winter, and the fact that until now we have not had very intensive rains, we’ve preserved a good soil structure. In most parts of the state, that means that soils will dry faster with the same amount of rain than they would have a year ago when the soil structure wasn’t nearly as loose as it is this year,’ said Tony Vyn, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service cropping systems specialist.
‘We did have some early planted corn. After that, there has been a long period of waiting to finish up. I think the early planted corn is doing nicely. No more than 20 percent got in in a timely manner, however, and that is a big problem,’ said Jerry Dryden, the Harrison County Extension Agent who retired Monday.
There are problems associated with the wet weather in terms of seedling diseases, but the main difficulty is with lost growing time due to late planting. During Dryden’s 12 years in Harrison County, about half have been especially wet and he said he believes this has been the worst.
‘Any time you plant corn after about the first week in May, you take about a bushel per day per acre yield off. Then when you get to the first of June, that yield loss doubles to about two bushels a day,’ Dryden said.
‘Soybeans are also particularly sensitive to day length, and late-planted soybeans reach the optimum day length at a point in time when they should be filling the pods, and the pods are just starting to form,’ Dryden said.
As a result of delays, both corn and soybeans are out of sync, Dryden said.
As summer stretches on, corn’s vulnerability to certain pests can also increase.
‘Anytime beyond the middle of June, a lot of fields become fair game to fall armyworm moths to lay eggs and simply destroy the stalks, ears and silks,’ Dryden said.
Corn and soybeans aren’t the only crops likely to suffer.
‘Tobacco growers this year held tobacco plants way beyond their optimum level of maturity for transplanting. Haymaking conditions have been horrid. Hay that has been made has been overmature. It has been made in haste,’ Dryden said, explaining that though the hay was bailed excess spoilage will occur due to high moisture.