WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Indiana farmers who had to wait through a month of seemingly never-ending rain that kept them out of their fields are now getting caught up in planting their crops.
Clearing skies and warming temperatures since early May have enabled 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. That is near the average of 65 percent over the last five years.
Frequent and heavy rains had prevented most farmers from working in their soggy and flooded fields in April and into the first week of May, leaving them weeks behind schedule during the spring planting season.
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 are 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.
Most of the corn acreage last week was planted across the northern and some central Indiana counties, the NASS said. Soils remained too wet in southern counties to allow much progress.
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.