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Farmers Play Catch-Up

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Farmers Play Catch-Up
A farmer seized the opportunity to plant corn at LaCrosse in La Porte County on May 16 during a stretch of long-awaited good weather. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Jennifer Stewart)
Indiana farmers are getting caught-up, somewhat. Clearing skies and warming temperatures since early May have enabled Hoosier farmers to plant 64 percent of the corn crop as of the week ending May 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service said, and that's just a percentage point below the five-year-average. Frequent and heavy rains producing soggy and flooded fields in April and into the first week of May left many farmers, especially in southern Indiana, weeks behind schedule during the spring planting season. The report said most of the corn acreage last week was planted across the northern and some central Indiana counties, as soils remained too wet in southern counties to allow much progress.
But they eventually got the break they needed, with May rainfall in Indiana so far averaging 1.9 inches, 30 percent less than normal. April rainfall, by comparison, averaged near 6.5 inches, about 70 percent more than normal.  Warmer-than-normal temperatures with near-normal rainfall is expected through the remainder of May.
"This should help farmers to finally reach the planting finish line after a slow start," said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist, based at Purdue University.
There has been a wide variation in May rainfall across the state the past three weeks. Northern Indiana received just a third of normal, with about 0.7 inch, while southern Indiana averaged close to 3.3 inches - about normal.
By area, 84 percent of the corn acreage so far had been planted in northern Indiana, 59 percent in the central portion of the state and 36 percent in the south.
Plants in 20 percent of Indiana's corn acreage had emerged, compared with 44 percent for the five-year average. For soybeans, 30 percent of the crop had been planted, compared with the five-year average of 36 percent. Soybeans typically are planted after corn.
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