sealPurdue News

May 21, 2002

Planting still behind, but forecast looks normal

The deluge of spring rains may be over, according to Indiana state climatologist Ken Scheeringa. Scheeringa, who is based at Purdue University, said the forecast for the rest of May calls for normal rainfall amounts.

"It's not going to be dry, but we'll certainly get less rain than we have been getting, and there will be more days between showers," he said.

That's welcome news for farmers who have done very little planting this spring. As of Monday (5/20), only 13 percent of the state's corn crop was in the ground with 4 percent of the soybean crop planted, according to the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service, also at Purdue. In a normal year, Indiana corn planting is almost finished by now, with more than 60 percent of the soybeans planted.

Scheeringa says the temperatures also should warm up, which will put an end to some concerns about frost damage.

CONTACTS: Ken Scheeringa, (765) 494-8105,; Ralph Gann, Indiana state agricultural statistician, (765) 494-8371 or (800) 363-0469.

Soil compaction worse than late planting

The risk of crop yield loss is greater from soil compaction than from late planting, said a Purdue University associate professor of agronomy.

Tony Vyn said spring soil compaction can reduce yields by up to 40 percent if extended dry conditions occur in the three months following the tillage or planting that caused the compaction. He said yield loss is caused by dry, hard soils that stress plant roots.

Excessive weight (from tractors and other heavy equipment) or localized soil smearing (from disks and tines) can compact wet soils. Vyn said the easiest way to determine if soil is too wet for planting is to roll the dirt into a wormlike shape between the palms of your hands. If you can form a 4-inch long "worm" of about one-eighth inch diameter, then wait to plant another day.

Vyn's tips for avoiding soil compaction in a wet spring are found in the May 10 Purdue Pest and Crop newsletter.

CONTACT: Tony Vyn, (765) 496-3757,