Farmers in southern Indiana are nervously watching the sky and hoping for rain as the weather heats up in the middle of an abnormally dry spring.
For the past several weeks, southern Indiana has been in the grip of a heat wave, with higher than average temperatures and lower than average rainfall. Since the beginning of the year, for example, Evansville, Indiana, has recorded 11 inches of rain, nearly 8 inches less than average amounts for this time of year.
The drought appears to be part of a larger weather pattern hovering around the Midwest. Western Kentucky, for example, has been experiencing similar dry climates and higher than usual temperatures, while Missouri has been experiencing flash droughts, sporadic bursts of high temperatures that are exacerbating existing dry conditions.
The continuing dryness is worrying many farmers across the region. “We’re really concerned,” one Vanderburgh County, Indiana, farmer said. “We have no reserve in the subsoil. Since we didn’t have our spring rains that saturate the soil, we never had that, down deep, two and three feet deep. There’s moisture, but there’s just not an abundance for this time of year.”
Without reserve moisture, many Hoosier farmers say, the temperature spike in July will kill crops across the state. Particularly troubling for many farmers is the timing of this drought. Corn farmers across the country planned on planting and harvesting a record corn crop this season. This period is important for young corn crops, as it will determine their final size and their kernel yields. A hot, dry summer could stress the crops, lower yields, and endagner the unprecedented prosperity that many farmers have been enjoying.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer