Farmers dismayed by rainy forecast


GREENFIELD — Rain is a good thing. Too much rain, however, can wreak havoc on local crops and the farm industry.

At least 8 inches of rain — more than double the average amount for the month — fell in Hancock County in June.

The start of July hasn’t been much drier, and with more rain in the forecast this week, people in the agriculture community said they are worried.

Crops in the area are flooded, saturating the roots and preventing nutrient absorption from the soil.

Inclement weather has kept farmers from their fields, which will lead to some long days ahead to make up for lost time.

But local farmers said they’re lucky — it could be worse; crops in counties across the state have been destroyed.

Purdue Extension reported Indiana’s corn and soybeans were among the best in the country at the start of the June. Now, they’re among the worst.

The state is well below average for corn and soybean yield prospects, and the rain is to blame, Purdue Extension officials said.

Officials estimate crop losses across the state will cost more than $475 million.

Locally, grain prices throughout the area jumped last week as a result of all the rain. At some sites, the increase was as high as 60 cents.

Though Hancock County had a short stretch of dry weather, the National Weather Service is forecasting a chance of rain every day through next week, meaning crops and farmers won’t be getting relief any time soon.

Hancock County Purdue Extension educator Roy Ballard said he doesn’t yet have a handle on how extensive damage is in Hancock County, but he knows it’s not nearly as bad as some parts in northern Indiana.

Crops in low-lying areas of the county have likely lost yields, he said. Other crops aren’t in good shape, and more rain will do more harm than good, he said.

Local farmer Michael Borgmann said he won’t know until harvest how extensive damage is at his farm on County Road 200S in New Palestine, where he grows corn, soybeans, wheat and hay.

He does know, however, that there’s been too much rain.

“The last of June and all of July is pretty much dry, and you don’t have these issues to worry about,” he said. “This year, it’s kind of the opposite.”

With rain nearly every day for a few weeks, farmers have had only short windows of time to get work done, he said.

“You go like gangbusters,” he said. “(The rain) is crazy. It’s frustrating.”

As rain began to fall this week, sections of fields were still stressed from last week, Borgmann said.

Ballard said even if pools of rain are no longer sitting on fields, roots are still saturated, causing nutrient deficiency.

“Soybeans don’t swim well,” he said. “I know we’ve got some losses out there; I just hope they’re not too excessive.”

Weeks filled with rainy days during the next month will only make matters worse, Ballard said.

Two potential positives for the agriculture community are that prices that farmers receive for the crops likely will be higher on the reduced number of bushels produced, and crop insurance payments to farmers will likely be higher, said Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt.