Indiana drought a concern for farmers

June 19, 2012 at 5:57 PM
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., June 19 (UPI) -- Indiana farmers and livestock producers still can recover from one of the worst droughts in more than two decades, but time is growing short, researchers say.

While one of the earliest onslaughts of extremely dry conditions in more than 20 years is drying out crop fields and forages, it's not yet time to hit the panic button, Purdue University researchers said Tuesday.

"Clearly, there are some truly severely stressed regions of the state," Bob Nielsen, Purdue corn specialist, said. "But if you look at the state as a whole, the corn has hung in there amazingly well."

Although dryness is not uncommon in Indiana in the summer, it is unusual for drought to hit in the spring, as it did this year soon after farmers planted corn and soybeans, researchers said.

"It is among the earliest onsets of severe, dry weather we've had in at least the last 25 years or so," Nielsen said.

Indiana has had less rain than normal because of continued high pressure and lack of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, the state's primary source of moisture, the Indiana State Climate Office based at Purdue said.

It still is possible for the corn crop to produce yields close to trend, Nielsen said, but it would need widespread and timely rains now and for the remainder of the season.

"It's not a disaster yet. We still have opportunities to recover. There has been yield loss that we won't recover, but I don't think it has been dramatic yield loss," he said.

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