Crop expected to be fifth lowest in quality since 1986

Though not all of the corn has been planted, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is already expecting the state's yields to be of poor quality.

Greg Matli, statistician with the USDA, said the corn is expected to be the fifth lowest in quality since 1986. As of Monday’s report, 38% of corn planted is expected to be good to very good quality. The lowest was in 1986, where no corn was good or very good quality, and the next was in 2012, when the state experienced significant drought, with 12% good to very good quality.

This is in part due to extreme flooding across the Midwest, which has also diminished crop yields for multiple products, and is expected to affect more later this summer.

Sadie Davis, Greene County extension office director, said her confidence in local yields is already low due to the wet conditions.

“We’ve dealt with dry weather, but when you deal with a flood, you can’t get into your fields and are roadblocked,” she said. “It’s been astounding, and it’s something we haven’t seen in a long time.”

According to the National Weather Service office in Indianapolis, the area received 9.58 inches of rain in June, more than 4 inches above normal for the month. In the first half of 2019, more than 30 inches of rain accumulated, which is also above normal.

Wet conditions have not only made for less production, but have barred farmers from planting in fields in the first place. In its weekly crop progress and condition report, the USDA reported Indiana farmers are finally catching up to planting corn and soybeans after June’s torrential rainfalls. As of Monday, 98% of corn seeds had been planted, compared with 100% planted by early June in 2018.

Soybean planting is 93% completed as of Monday, which was also finished by this time last year.

Although corn and soybeans are still in growing season, some vegetables and fruits in the area have been very limited, including tomatoes, peppers, green beans and peaches. Some crops, such as melons, are not doing well due to the particularly deep water table this year as well.

Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market coordinator Marcia Veldman said many of the summer crop vendors at the market have not even shown up to sell yet this year, when they normally would have by now — another rarity.

One Daviess County sweet corn farmer told Veldman that despite planting the same seed in the same field on the same day a year apart, this year’s corn was done a week later than his 2018 crop, and yielded 88% less product already. In 2018, he yielded 250 dozen ears of sweet corn. This year, he has 30 dozen.

“I don’t envy our producers right now. They say farming is one of the biggest gambles you can take. This season, it’s been more correct than ever,” Davis said.

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