The corn at Dan Sutton's West Creek Township farm and others has suffered a bit due to the cooler weather this year. Stalks are not as tall as they should be by this time, he says. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
The corn at Dan Sutton's West Creek Township farm and others has suffered a bit due to the cooler weather this year. Stalks are not as tall as they should be by this time, he says. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
While time will tell whether cooler temperatures have hurt corn yields across the state, most region farmers already know heavy rains here drowned out hopes of a good crop.

West Creek Township farmer Dan Sutton said area corn farmers did fine when others elsewhere were hurt by drought two years ago.

"Now, it's our turn to suffer a bit. Too much moisture. Nitrogen left the field, and delayed planting. It's a perfect storm," Sutton said in predicting lower corn yields this season.

Purdue University corn specialist Bob Nielsen said the cooler temperatures that delayed planting and have continued into the July growing season may seem to hearken back to 2009 when "the grain harvest was pretty miserable for many growers," but there are differences.

In most of the state, planting was still ahead of the five-year average this year, and as of July 20, the pace for silking is slightly ahead of the five-year average, too.

Nielsen said plant population and initial uniformity "appears to have been excellent throughout the state, except within fields that sustained damage from excessive rainfall."

That means Northwest Indiana and nearby Illinois.

Sutton said it's easy to see there's little uniformity when corn plants in the same field locally range from knee-high to waist-high to ears popping out.

Sutton said a St. Louis, Missouri-based agronomist his family retained told them, "We have the worst crops in the nation."

Sutton said the agronomist's services are used to scan aerial imaging he provides. The specialist then walks to specific areas in the fields identified as problem spots to determine the problems and their solutions. He does that across much of the Midwest corn belt.

"We just had way too much moisture here," Sutton said. The result is variable heights in corn and depleted nitrogen. "The nitrogen deficiency causes the brown bottoms. ... And, with less heat, the corn thinks it's July 4th."

Nielsen said many of the record-high years for corn yield in Indiana have been those with moderate, if not cool, temperatures during the growing season.

How will corn farmers fare in the region and throughout the state?

"The honest answer to that question is time will tell because the next 60 days will decide whether this crop finishes as strong as much of it looks today or falters in response to yet unknown weather extremes and/or diseases," Nielsen said.

The state climate office, based at Purdue University, expects temperatures this week below the normal highs in the mid-80s and lows in the mid-60s.

As the month ends, July is set to surpass 2009 as the coldest July on record since 1895.

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