Although some Indiana fields still were too wet, farmer Tom Hackman was able to start planting during the last week of April in his watermelon and cantaloupe fields in southern Indiana. His helpers laid plastic that will be used for weed control.
Although some Indiana fields still were too wet, farmer Tom Hackman was able to start planting during the last week of April in his watermelon and cantaloupe fields in southern Indiana. His helpers laid plastic that will be used for weed control.

VALLONIA, Ind. — With soils still drying out from the downpours in April, farmers are hoping for dry weather as they finally begin planting.

Tom Hackman, a farmer from Vallonia, plants 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans and produce in southern Jackson and Washington counties. While his fields didn’t flood as bad as others in Indiana, he still is behind normal planting times.

“It’s behind. It’s slow,” he said. “In a sense, we’re fortunate because we didn’t get the original heavy rain in April. But we get it in the form of the river rising.”

Hackman started planting row crops and produce during the dry days in the last week of April. He hopes the weather cooperates so they can continue to get the fields planted.

“We started on April 29 this year,” he said. “Last year, we started on the 10th. It’s funny, last year it was a mistake to plant early. We had a plot that never does well in April, so we waited. Best move I could have possibly made because that farm ended up yielding 170 to 180 bushels per acre versus what we planted in April that yielded in the 60s to 80s. Just waiting a little while changed everything.”

Mycogen Seeds agronomist Andrew Ferrel explained most farms now are in the beginning stages of planting.

“It’s just getting started for the most part in Indiana,” he said. “It’s been pretty wet and pretty cold. Temperatures didn’t break until the last week of April.

“Last week, people were running in areas where it was sandy. If soils are sandy, then the water drains quicker, so they can get in the fields quicker. In other areas, there is still a lot of standing water, and things are pretty waterlogged in places, so it’s all over the board, depending on location.”

Although planting is later than average and much later than last year, Ferrel said there still is time to get crops in the ground.

The weather during the next few weeks will play a large role in the process. The upcoming weather also will affect levels of plant disease and rot, Ferrel said.

“Relative to what we call a normal year, it is a late planting season, but with people going in the fields last week, it’s not too late,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone switching maturities on hybrids or varieties because we are not to that extreme. Hopefully, we don’t get a lot of rain, and people can continue to roll.”

Ferrel gave another piece of advice for farmers to think about in the future. “Weed control will be something to keep an eye on this year,” he said. “The winter annuals got a good jumpstart on us because conditions weren’t fit to spray and burn down until last week. It’ll be important to stay on top of your herbicide program.”

Although planting is later than last year, Hackman isn’t stressing about the weather on his farm.

“I’m not worried about this year,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where you roll with the punches — you don’t really have a set agenda.

“I think if you do everything when it’s ready to be done, if you can be there to do it and do it the right way to give it the best opportunity to do all it can do, you’re going to get all you can out of it. If you think it has to be done by such and such as a date, you’re going to be in trouble.”