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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fall harvest lags behind previous years

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Indiana's fall harvest is lagging behind where it should be for this time of year, according to the latest crop and weather report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

According to the Oct. 2 report, 41 percent of the state's soybean crops have reached maturity compared to 68 percent at this time last year.

Further, 73 percent of Hoosier corn is fully developed compared to 82 percent last year at this time.

"The whole harvest is running a little later than normal," Parke County Extension Director Mark Spelbring told the BannerGraphic Wednesday.

Figuring out why takes a little bit of guess work and a lot of experience in knowing what it takes to make a good crop.

Spelbring said he believes part of the delay this year is due to the fact that some crops were planted later in the spring than normal. Western counties were socked in with rain at a time when farmers should have been out in the fields planting their summer crops, Spelbring said.

Also, heavy rains in the spring and early summer soaked some fields after planting, requiring farmers to go in and plant crops a second time.

The good news in all this is that the condition of the crops is far ahead of where it was last year at this time.

This week's report indicated that 73 percent of the state's corn crop is rated good or excellent compared to only 47 percent last year. Additionally, 74 percent of soybeans are rated good or excellent compared to 55 percent last year.

Meanwhile, ag experts say Indiana's 2006 farm income may be down 10-15 percent over last year, with total incomes of $1.4 billion having been recorded in 2005 and $1.2 billion predicted for this year.

Additionally, the annual net income per farm was $23,562 in 2005. That number is expected to fall to $21,000 this year.

Spelbring said there are a number of factors effecting the amount of yield, and consequently profits, that farmers will get out of their crops.

For beans, it's a matter of available sunlight and length of days.

The National Weather Service keeps track of the amount of sunshine that occurs each day of the year. A day that is rated at 30 percent sunshine means it was cloudy for a majority of the daylight hours while a day that is rated at 80 percent sunshine means it was sunny for most of that day.

With that explanation in mind, September saw only 50 percent of possible sunshine, preceded by August with 58 percent. This is a time when soybeans are putting forth a lot of growth.

The statistics get better with July where 69 percent of possible sunshine was experienced, preceded by June with 66 percent, May with 63 percent and April with 72 percent.

For corn crops, heat, not sunlight, is the most important factor for growth, Spelbring explained.

Many people felt like July was one of the hottest months to occur in Indiana in a long time. According to the weather bureau, the temperature climbed to 90 degrees or above 11 of the 31 days of the month.

The average temperature for July, which takes into account both the highs and the lows for each day, was 76.7 degrees, or 1.3 degrees warmer than the average.

June's average temperature was 70.5 degrees, or 1.2 degrees cooler than normal, while August's average was 75.1 degrees, or 1.6 degrees warmer than normal.

More notably, Septem-ber's average temperature for the month was only 64.1 degrees, or 2.2 degrees cooler than normal. This could have led to a delay in the corn's maturity.

This week's rainstorms haven't helped the situation either.

Rain and thunderstorms early in the week brought more than an inch of rain to the Putnam County area. Storms that rolled through portions of the county on Wednesday dampened some fields yet again.

But Spelbring was hopeful that sunny, dry days forecast for this weekend will help many farmers get back in their fields.

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