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Drought Drops Indiana Corn Production By 25 Percent

Indiana's corn and soybean crop yields are some of the hardest hit in the U.S.

two corn

Photo: Bill Shaw/WFIU-WTIU News

A farmer outside of Greencastle shows some of his corn.

Nationwide, corn production is down 13 percent from 2011 while soybean production is down 12 percent, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Indiana’s Crop Loss

Purdue agronomists say Indiana corn production will drop 28 percent from last year, while soybeans will produce 22 percent less.

Purdue agronomist Bob Nielsen says 2011’s corn production was lower than normal, which means, if comparing this year’s output to typical yield, the drop is even more significant.

“This will be the biggest departure from trend yield in Indiana corn in the past 75 years,” he says. “Based on the trend yields that I use, this hundred bushel estimate is about 38 percent below trend.”

In the soybean fields, the projections are not much brighter, but Purdue agronomist Shaun Casteel says, unlike corn, soybeans still have a chance at partial recovery.

“We have a little bit longer development window, still, with this year’s crop,” he says. “Rains that have been coming sporadically north central, last night, coming through the central, southeast part of the state. If those rains continue, we can make ground.”

Both Nielsen and Casteel say southwest Indiana has been the hardest hit part of the state.

Drought Results In Higher Food Prices

Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt says he expects food prices to go up about 3.5 percent this year because of the losses. He says that is on top of a 3 percent increase last year, and a projected 3 to 4 percent increase next year.

“Those prices have gone up for now what’ll be three years at above the income rate of increase,” he says. “So that means, for our American families, it is cutting into that paycheck.”

Hurt says the increased food prices are good news for farmers, who will use the higher prices, along with crop insurance, to help offset production losses.

But state Department of Agriculture director Joe Kelsay says the relief crop insurance provides may not be immediate.

“Because of the need to quantify losses and process these claims, that payment may be delayed and may be delayed as much as into late spring, early summer next year,” he says.

Kelsay says for farmers used to receiving the bulk of their income in the fall when they sell off their harvests, those delayed payments will throw off the way they finance their business.

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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