Torrential rains and resulting flooding have killed off as much as 5 percent of Indiana’s corn and soybean crops and already cost the state’s agricultural economy about $300 million since the beginning of June, Purdue Extension economist Chris Hurt said Friday (June 26).
“We went from a well above-normal crop to a very discouraging, below-normal crop,” he said at a special news briefing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. “This was a very devastating period.”
He expects the losses to continue to mount at least over the next few weeks as more rain is forecast.
Hurt said grain prices were starting to increase as the extent of the crop damage became apparent. But the higher prices could be offset by reduced yields and increased expenses from replanting flood-damaged fields.
“There are very major reasons for concern,” Hurt said.
Michael Langemeier, an agricultural economist specializing in crop systems, said about 80 percent of the state’s corn and soybean acreage was covered by crop insurance. Although it is too late to consider replanting corn, soybean farmers could decide to start over with reduced insurance coverage. During a late planting period that ends July 15, coverage drops 1 percent per day.
Langemeier said farmers need to do a cost-benefit analysis before deciding whether to replant.
“The main things farmers need to consider is what additional expenses I will incur and compare that to the additional revenue,” he said.
Julia Wickard, state executive director of the Farm Service Agency, said Indiana has not yet applied for federal disaster assistance.
“We certainly know that our farmers across Indiana are experiencing unprecedented rainfall,” she said. “These flood events have left damage and heartbreak behind.”
She said FSA officials were collecting data and assessing damage in the hardest-hit parts of the state. To qualify for disaster assistance, such as low-interest loans, a region has to show at least a 30 percent loss in production.
“We are ready to take on this challenge that will probably be confronting us as we move forward,” she said.
Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist, said the region’s unsettled weather would likely continue for at least the next month, with conditions cooler and wetter than normal.
“Even though there is a very good chance for above-average rainfall, I am hopeful the amounts will be more reasonable,” Scheeringa said.