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Corn in Crisis in SW Indiana

Darren Goebel

The situation has gone from critical to desperate in SW Indiana. The rain has been too little and too late for much of the corn in SW Indiana. “Folks around here say they have never seen it this bad,” said Darren Gobel, agronomist with Pioneer based in Evansville. He told HAT the crops in Gibson, Knox, Davies, Dubois, and surrounding counties are in the middle of pollination with extremely hot and dry conditions. As a result, yield losses will be sizeable, “I think we will see corn yields all the way from zero to 150 bpa.” He speculated that most fields will average around 100 bpa with only a few of the river bottoms yielding close to 150 bpa.  In a normal year, many of these counties would yield twice that level.


Gobel says even Pioneer’s new drought-tolerant hybrid, AquaMax, is struggling in the extreme drought, “These crops are doing better than most, but they do requires at least some water to produce.” He said the drought-tolerant hybrids flower earlier and thus pollinated before some of the extreme heat and dryness set in.  He added they will need rain to finish, but feels they are likely to have better yields than non-drought-tolerant hybrids.


The latest USDA crop condition report released on Monday showed the crop statewide is suffering extreme drought conditions,  “Corn condition fell again and is now rated 19 percent good to excellent compared with 58 percent last year at this time. This is the worst condition rating for corn at this time of year since 1988 when none of the crop was rated good to excellent.”  Statewide topsoil moisture ratings were 62% very short and only 9% adequate.


Up until now, the concern has been on the corn, but now the soybeans are in trouble. “They are starting to die on the hillsides and sandy soils,” said Gobel.  He said, if more significant rains come, they soybeans have a chance to recover, but right now they are starting to look very stressed.  Statewide soybean condition also declined to  20 percent good to excellent compared with 57 percent last year at this time, according to the USDA.


The forecast does not hold out much hope for a break in the drought pattern. HAT meteorologist Rob Wasson  said, “Hot weather will continue through the week with a few days of scattered thunderstorms.”  IN his Indiana farm forecast Wasson predicts,  “By Thursday, high pressure will build across the Midwest and end the rain for a couple of days.  Temperatures will continue to push above normal on Saturday and Sunday, with that trend holding into most of next week.”  The extended, two week forecast calls for above average temperatures and near normal rainfall statewide.


Listen to the complete report with Darren Gobel.