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Record Rainfall Drowning Indiana’s Crops

Flooded field

Photo: Barbara Brosher

The soil in Jay County is saturated with water, causing corn to grow unevenly.

This summer is shaping up to be one of the wettest on record in Indiana.

And that means farmers across the state are being flooded with problems.

A good portion of Indiana’s corn and soybeans have been heavily damaged by the rain. Some farmers have lost entire fields.

Northern Indiana Fields Look More Like Ponds

The saying goes, knee high by the Fourth of July.

“Obviously most of the time we’re well past that stage by the Fourth of July,” says Jay County Farmer David Lowe.

But that’s not the case this year.

“It was cold and it was wet even into May and a lot of our late-planted corn, because it was so wet, some of it is just knee high now and very uneven,” Lowe says.

He’s one of several farmers who’s struggling to salvage crops after being pounded with rain nonstop.

Many fields in Jay County are covered in standing water. The corn and soybeans popping through look uneven and unhealthy. Some of the crops won’t recover.

“Jay County is at 30 percent disaster at this point,” says Purdue Extension Educator Larry Temple.

Farmers across the state are facing the same challenges after experiencing the wettest June since 1895. There were only four days last month where it didn’t rain somewhere in Indiana.

And that’s having a big impact on the quality of the state’s crops.

Experts Say Rain Costing Farmers $500 Million In Lost Production Potential

United States Department of Agriculture Statistician Greg Matli says while less than half of Indiana’s corn and soybeans are in good condition, 21 percent are in poor or very poor condition.

“That very poor condition shows the crop is either failing or completely failed at this point,” Matli says.

That’s a stark contrast to last year, when farmers produced a record amount of corn and soybeans.

Purdue Agricultural Economist Christ Hurt says having even a small amount of failing crops can cause big financial problems because corn and soybeans cover 12 million acres of Indiana.

“That is a lot of area and financially we’ve estimated the losses of just that lost production potential we think that’s about 5 percent of our corn and soybean crop that we’ve lost,” Hurt says. “That comes out to about $300 million of the corn crop and probably about $200 million of the soybean crop. So, we put those two together and that’s approaching half a billion dollars.”

soybeans

Photo: Barbara Brosher

Farmers are hoping the rain will hold off long enough for them to produce an average soybean crop.

Farmers could get some relief from crop insurance, which typically covers 75 to 85 percent of their losses.

And, they could get a better price for the corn and soybeans that do survive the wet season.

“So far we’ve seen about a 10 percent increase in prices, both corn and soybeans,” Hurt says.

That won’t necessarily translate to a big jump in what consumers pay for corn or soybean products at the store.

Hurt expect prices could only rise one-tenth to two-tenths of a percent – an increase that’s unnoticeable to most.

It’s been said Mother Nature has the last back and obviously she’s giving us what we need, I guess. But it’s not what we want.
-David Lowe, Jay County farmer

“It’s really the eastern Corn Belt that’s having this wet weather problems. Guess what? The western Corn Belt, particularly northwestern Corn Belt — Iowa, Minnesota, Dakotas and Nebraska have an above average quality crop. So, when we put those together — the western Corn Belt is above average, eastern Corn Belt’s above average — you put put them together we’re actually fairly close to a normal national crop.”

It’s too early to tell how the rest of the season will pan out for Hoosier farmers like Lowe. If the rain holds off for much of the rest of the summer, he could end up with an average crop.

But, that’s all up to Mother Nature.

“It’s been said Mother Nature has the last back and obviously she’s giving us what we need, I guess. But it’s not what we want.”

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