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May 30, 2003

Rain halts southern Indiana's planting progress, raises questions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Significant rainfall in southern Indiana is preventing farmers from making headway on planting corn. Because of this delay, Purdue University Extension specialists said farmers should look at the agronomic and economic issues that could affect the success and profitability of this year's crop.

As of Tuesday (5/27), Indiana farmers had planted 73 percent of the corn crop, according to the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service's crop progress report. However, southern Indiana is significantly behind the rest of the state, with only 39 percent of its anticipated corn acres planted at this point, leaving farmers wondering what their next step should be.

Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist, said late-planted corn concerns farmers because of potential yield loss.

"Corn yields drop by about one bushel per acre per day during the last half of May and up to two bushels per acre per day during June," Nielsen said. "However, the planting date is only one of the factors that influences final yield outcomes and does not guarantee low yields."

Since southern Indiana has a longer growing season, Nielsen said farmers are safe to plant fuller season hybrid maturities through June 1. If farmers in south central and southwest Indiana are unable to plant during the first week of June, Nielsen said they may want to consider an earlier maturity corn hybrid. Information about these different maturity hybrids is available in Purdue Extension publication AY-312-W, titled "Delayed Planting and Hybrid Maturity Decisions." The publication can be downloaded online at

Delayed planting situations also raise the question of whether farmers should consider switching their intended corn acreage over to soybeans.

"The growing season is becoming increasingly shorter with every passing day," Nielsen said. "But there is little agronomic reason to consider switching to soybeans in southern Indiana until late June. Many farmers in this part of the state will not even need to consider switching to earlier maturity corn hybrids until later in June."

However, Chris Hurt, Purdue Extension agricultural economist, said as June approaches, the economics grow in favor of considering increased soybean acres.

"If there is not a yield drag due to planting beans on beans, then soybeans are a great alternative to corn and have about $10 to $15 per acre higher returns than corn, given current new crop prices in southern Indiana," Hurt said.

Certain situations will prevent farmers from switching corn acreage to soybeans.

Nielsen said if farmers have already applied nitrogen fertilizer and corn herbicides to land intended for corn production that would prohibit the switch to soybeans. Nielsen also points out that soybeans planted on last year's bean ground may increase the chances for disease, weed or insect problems. This factor suggests that an additional 10 percent yield reduction should be calculated on these fields, he said.

Nielsen also reminds farmers that this potential yield reduction will be more likely if some fields will be planted to soybeans for the third consecutive year if they were forced by last year's similar rainy planting season to plant second-year soybeans in 2002.

"Given this added yield reduction for soybeans, the economics say to consider shifting to beans in very early June," Hurt said.

Farmers with crop insurance should contact their insurance agent about their possible options, said George Patrick, Purdue Extension agricultural economist. Patrick said the final planting date for intended corn acres is June 5 and June 20 for soybeans. Farmers should check with their insurance agents for the prevented planting qualifications and for the potential amount of possible insurance payments.

"If a producer plants after the final planting date for a crop, the insurance yield is reduced 1 percent per day for every day up to 25 days that planting is delayed," Patrick said. "For example, if a producer had a yield guarantee of 90 bushels of corn and planting was delayed until June 15, the yield guarantee level would be decreased by 10 percent to 81 bushels."

In 2002 more than 60 percent of the total planted corn acres and 59 percent of soybean acres were insured. Due to the adverse weather conditions in 2002, Patrick said levels of insurance coverage are expected to be slightly higher this year.

Writer: Jennifer Doup, (765) 494-8406,

Sources: Bob Nielsen, (765) 494-4802,

Chris Hurt, (765) 494-4273,

George Patrick, (765) 494-4241,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,;

Related Web site:
Purdue Extension Farming 2003

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