Cause For 'Concern' As Corn Planting Slows

May 9, 2016

Credit slowdevil / https://www.flickr.com/photos/slowdevil/3678747832/

Hoosier farmers didn't make much progress planting corn in the past week, after a strong early start -- and they're running out of time to get the state's signature crop in the ground.

Heavy spring rainfall didn't stop Indiana farmers from planting twice as much corn by the start of May as they had in 2015. They were on their way to planting a projected 2.6 percent more acres of corn than last year, despite a glut of the crop worldwide.

But now, their pace has slowed. Farmers only planted 8 more percent of that acreage last week, and are down 5 percent from where they were a year ago.

Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says it's "not optimum." Indiana is now just under the USDA's five-year average, and well behind the pace of every corn-heavy state except Michigan and Ohio.

Hurt says it's generally better to have bad weather now than in summer, when the corn is growing. "But I think after this week, there's going to be some increased concern of the lateness of corn planting," he says, especially if the forecast stays rainy through the weekend.

Hurt says any corn planted after mid-May won't pollinate until late July, when conditions are dry and hot. Though extra spring moisture can help keep the subsoil wet at the height of summer, Hurt says too much late planting would be bad for the value of the eventual fall harvest.