COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) — Farmer Evan Clouse, who grows corn,
soybeans and wheat near Hope, hopes nothing spoils what’s shaping up as a good
year for all his crops over the next month.
Clouse said he’s keeping an eye on the weather and searching
for early signs of disease in his cornfields after a recent Purdue Extension
report suggested recent rains and high humidity could create more fungal and
bacterial problems throughout the state.
“I think the potential for our crop this year is probably
one of the best we’ve had,” Clouse told The Republic. “We’ve got a good stand of
corn, and the rains have been pretty timely. The next 30 days will be critical.”
But Clouse isn’t taking any chances. He called in an
agronomy specialist to check his fields to make sure his corn crop has no
After the inspection, Clouse said his plants passed, but he
plans to stay watchful for the rest of the growing season.
“In the next couple of weeks, we’ll check again and see what
it looks like,” he said.
If any problems pop up, Clouse intends to use a fungicide in
his cornfields, although that will cost about $30 extra per acre to spray. He
has 800 acres of corn planted, meaning he’d incur a $24,000 cost.
Purdue University pathologist Kiersten Wise reported that
three sorts of diseases have started appearing in some Indiana cornfields. Among
those are gray leaf spot, which is caused by a fungus; northern corn leaf
blight, also caused by a fungus; and Goss’ wilt, a bacterial disease that’s hard
Wise said fungicides can treat gray leaf spot and northern
corn leaf blight, while any farmers who suspect Goss’ wilt should have a plant
sample analyzed by a lab.
“I’ve heard some people say there’s a risk of fungus
problems that might occur from all the moisture and humid weather, but I haven’t
seen too much yet,” the farmer said as he headed to supper after a long day in
the field. “I’ll spray fungicide if I have to. We have the potential for a big
Clouse said he already has harvested wheat and seen good
“Overall, everything looks real good if the next few weeks
are friendly to us,” he said.
The results of this year’s corn and soybean harvests will be
important to Bartholomew County farmers, especially after a rough 2012 when crop
yields were hurt by a prolonged drought.
Corn yields last year, for example, were down 55 percent
compared to a strong 2009, figures show. And soybean yields were off 27.5
percent compared to 2009 — a year when the weather was kinder to farmers.
Corn and soybeans are the county’s and the state’s top cash
In Bartholomew County alone last year, 66,000 harvested
acres of corn produced 5.2 million bushels for sale, and that led to income of
roughly $36.4 million for farmers, according to production and price data from
the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
For soybeans, county farmers harvested 61,700 acres and sold
2.3 million bushels for just under $35 million in income last year, according to
USDA estimates. Statewide, the corn and soybean crops had a combined value of
$7.7 billion for 2012, the agency’s data show.
Paul Hoffman, a retired factory worker who now grows close
to 90 acres of corn, some wheat and 125 acres of soybeans, said his crops also
are coming along fine.
“We’ve had adequate rainfall, and our corn in particular
isn’t too bad for this time of year. All in all things look pretty good,” he
said while working on his land in southern Bartholomew County.
Hoffman said he sees no sign of fungus or pests in his corn
or bean crops, and some of his corn plants already are 8 feet tall and tasseled.
“We’ve never used any fungicide on our corn, but there are
people who do that,” the farming veteran of 55 years said.
USDA specialists say rainstorms with high winds have bent
some cornstalks in parts of Indiana, but Hoffman said his crop hasn’t seen any
damage from such gusts.
So far, this growing season rates far superior to last year,
when a severe drought hurt many crops in Indiana and across the Midwest.
“The crops are looking good to excellent this year. We’re
150 percent better than last summer,” said farmer Randy Weinantz, who grows
corn, soybeans and a little wheat on 1,200 acres near Edinburgh.
The latest crop condition report from the National
Agricultural Statistics Service said 78 percent of corn in Indiana rates good to
excellent at this stage, along with 74 percent of soybeans.
Last year, at the height of the drought, only 7 percent of
corn rated that highly and just 12 percent of soybeans.
The USDA report didn’t try to quantify the extent of wind
damage in cornfields around the state, saying that most plants partially bent by
gusty winds will return to upright status as the growing season progresses.
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