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Indiana crops looking good despite high rainfall 

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By Olivia Covington

Indiana has seen above-average rainfall this summer, but experts say that while the rainy days have been inconvenient, the state's crops haven't been too negatively affected.

In fact, the rain has been welcome after a historic 2012 summer that - at its worst - left 85 percent of the state in one of the three worst drought categories used by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

"After last summer, nobody is complaining about the rain too much," said Bob White, a policy analyst at the Indiana Farm Bureau. "There have been pockets in the state where they've had an abnormal amount, (and) there (were) some areas of the state that had some problems getting the crop in.

But the latest crop report from the National Agriculture Statistics Service puts Indiana's farms "in good shape," he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's July 2 Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, 0.5 to 5.23 inches of rain fell across the state last week. And overall, total rainfall for the state this year has been above average.

"Rainfall amounts for the year to date are running anywhere from 22 to 30 inches. That's about 30 percent higher than the normal," said Ken Scheeringa, Indiana associate climatologist at Purdue University.

But, the USDA report said despite the above-average amounts of rain, the state's major crops have shown "good growth."

"Corn is doing very well, except in those spots where they had too much rain, and in those areas some of the corn had to be replanted," Scheeringa said. "Overall the corn picture is looking very good in Indiana. We're one of the best states as far as corn condition is concerned."

In fact, the national report found that nearly 80 percent of the state's corn crop is in excellent or good condition. That's as good or better than all but a couple states.

"We're actually ahead of the five-year average in growth, and, so, things are looking pretty good," White said.

Even though conditions are mostly favorable, Indiana farmers have faced a few setbacks.

The USDA report's crop moisture index said the northeastern and southwestern areas of the state were considered "abnormally moist," while the rest of the state was "slightly dry/favorably moist."

Thunderstorms that affected all areas of the state last week resulted in standing water in fields in southern Indiana counties.

The storms also blew down some wheat crops.

"There (have) been some problems in the southern part of the state that should be harvesting their wheat right now, and when the wheat's ready to go it's ready to go," White said. "They've still got some time to work that out."

The report also said only 3.1 days last week were suitable for fieldwork.

Additionally, the rain hindered farmers' ability to spray pesticides on their crops. However, White said this shouldn't have an adverse effect.

"Most people that spray down their crops have been able to do that, maybe not in as timely a fashion as they would like," White said. "But they're basically getting done what they need to get done."

Olivia Covington is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.
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