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PARCHED EARTH: Lack of rain, warm temperatures play havoc with newly-planted crops

May 25, 2012

Post & Mail photo / Phil Smith
Recent hot temperatures and dry conditions have created challenges for crops trying to get started in increasingly arid county soil.

COLUMBIA CITY — While Hoosiers on holiday don shorts, sandals and sunscreen to enjoy what promises to be an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, many farmers could be looking to the skies, hoping for wet relief.

“We’re over an inch (of rain) below normal for the month of May and two and a half inches below normal since the beginning of January,” said Dave Addison of Whitley County’s Purdue Extension Office.

“Most of the corn and beans are looking fairly decent because they’re (the seeds) able to take advantage of the reserves that are in the seed. But, right about now is when they start establishing the root growth they’re going to need for later.”

Many Indiana farmers had to resist the temptation to plant their crops early this spring with days in early March that rivaled mid-June.

Experts cautioned against breaking out the planters prematurely due to a possibility of frost which could destroy any crops already in the ground.

But, the unseasonable weather that tempted farming early birds last month is having unint- consequences in late-May, according to the National Weather Service.

“We had a very warm winter, and with that comes a very dry spring,” said Michael Sabones, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in North Webster. “It’s really going to ramp up this weekend with temperatures in the 90s.”

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