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Indiana corn planting ahead of schedule despite wet conditions

May 20, 2016

Indiana's corn producers had 30 percent of their crop planted as of May 1 and were ahead of schedule despite more rain than normal so far this spring.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress report issued Monday (May 2), Hoosier corn farmers were far ahead of the pace from last year, when heavy rains delayed planting in many regions.

Indiana's five-year corn planting average for May 1 is 22 percent. Only 16 percent of the crop had been planted this time last year.

"I'm surprised we got as much corn planted as showed up in the report because of the rain," said Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist.

Reports from the Indiana State Climate Office based at Purdue show above average precipitation for most of the state since March 1. Rainy weather was expected to continue through at least the first week of May.

Nielsen said farmers who haven't yet planted their crops shouldn't rush into wet fields or think about switching to shorter-maturity hybrids.

"It is still too early to worry about any possible delays," Nielsen said. "We know these kinds of delays are not automatically detrimental to yield."

Planting in wet fields can cause soil compaction. Compaction occurs when soil particles are pressed tightly together under heavy loads, such as planting machinery. The compressed particles are less able to absorb moisture and nutrients, increasing the risk of erosion and runoff and making it more difficult for plants to develop healthy root systems.

Planting should move quickly once the weather improves and fields begin to dry out, Nielsen said.

"It's hard to be patient," he said. "Nevertheless, I hope people will use common sense. We know we can plant a lot of crops in a short period of time. We can punch out the rest of these aces pretty quick."

Soybean planting was just underway in Indiana, with the Crop Progress report showing 6 percent of the crop planted compared with 3 percent this time last year and a five-year average of 8 percent.

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