Central Indiana farmers took full advantage of the recent “dry” spell and planted as much as they could before the next rain event. The planting window was brief but enough for some farmers to get some corn planted. Farm implements were a regular sight along and on the roads last weekend and the first part of this week. Still, farmers are saying this is the worst planting season they’ve ever seen.

“My dad has been farming for over 50 years and he says he’s never seen one quite like this,” Don Lamb of Lamb Farms in Boone County said, adding the closest comparison was 1974. “It was very similar to this one and then the other thing that happened was — kind of the worst case scenario — was they had an early frost.”

The beautiful acres and acres of yellow wildflowers, called Butterweed, indicate the trouble the agriculture community has faced this spring.

“We used them as centerpieces for my daughter’s high school open house,” Lamb said. “They’re pretty, but they’re definitely weeds.”

While the last four days have been ideal for getting in the fields, Lamb said every farm is facing its own situation.

“Everything from the rain pattern, either hit them or not hit them, to their insurance policy to whether they want to roll the dice and keep going,” he said adding that he looks at this spring as a challenge and not a disaster. “It is hard on the whole industry and rural communities.”

The delay in planting has delayed purchases of gas, herbicides and seed that may never get planted is usually returned to the dealer.

Boone County Extension Educator Curt Emanuel said the planting decisions are coming down to a field by field determination.

“Is this field dry enough to plant?” Emanuel said. “These farmers will know their fields. There will be farmers that will plant portions of a field and avoid the wet areas. Some fields may never get planted.

“Under crop insurance, there is a provision where you can take preventive planting when it becomes impossible to plant,” Emanuel said. “You can get some insurance for that. It doesn’t replace growing a crop.”

Lamb said the prevailing philosophy on planting corn is by June 10. After that, farmers will need to consider planting beans, which could be in as late as July 1.

“None of it's good the later it gets,” Lamb said. “The later you have to plant it, the less potential it has to yield well."

Lamb said his operation may have to change plans, but that they will do everything they can to plant. As of Tuesday morning, Lamb estimated he has planted about 20 percent of his fields.

Emanuel said he hopes this spring will be the one the farmers are talking about 30 or 40 years from now.

“If this starts to become normal, we are going to have to really change the way we go about doing things,” Emanuel said. “For now, we are looking at it as a historical anomaly year.”

Gus Pearcy writes for The Lebanon Reporter. Reach him at gus.pearcy@reporter.net.

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