Kayla Culp uses a stick to check the depth of water thathas collected in a corner of a soybean field on her family's farm in Rensselaer. It measured nearly four feet deep. The water has reduced their crop by about 70 percent, she said. Gov. Mike Pence visited the Culp Family Farm Wednesday to see ow heavy rains and flooding have hampered local farmer's effort to plant and grow crops. Staff photo by John Luke
Kayla Culp uses a stick to check the depth of water thathas collected in a corner of a soybean field on her family's farm in Rensselaer. It measured nearly four feet deep. The water has reduced their crop by about 70 percent, she said. Gov. Mike Pence visited the Culp Family Farm Wednesday to see ow heavy rains and flooding have hampered local farmer's effort to plant and grow crops. Staff photo by John Luke
Crops need water, but the torrential downpours over the last two months have drowned out thousands of acres of corn and soybeans throughout Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Jasper counties, according to area farmers.

Those crops that have survived remain vulnerable, adding up to big losses for farm families.

“We’ve had 17 inches of rain since April 20. We got all our crops planted, but we got too much rain," said Matt Hayden, whose family farms 4,000 acres in Lowell and Hebron.  "It’s affected the corn more. Stuff is already ruined.”

This is the second year wet weather has created problems for area farmers, he said, with 6-8 inches of rain destroying crops last year.

During times of drought, corn sends its roots deep into the soil in search of water, making the corn stalks stronger. However, when the ground is wet, corn’s root systems remain shallow. That makes the corn stalks vulnerable to high winds that will topple the plants, Hayden explained.

“We’ve lost about half our crop. Everything else will be about half the size or shape it should be,” he said.

Matt Hayden, whose father, Jerry, started farming in 1975, sells his corn crops to the Cargill plant in Hammond to make corn-based products.

Other Hayden family members farm about 5,000 acres in Rensselaer in Jasper County, and those fields are almost a total loss, Matt Hayden said.

“My cousin, Nicole Hayden, said compared with their farm in Jasper County, our farm is like a desert,” said Matt Hayden, who is president of the Lake County Farm Bureau, Inc.

William Bohling and his family also face financial problems on their seven farms in Porter and Jasper counties. Three of those farms are in Morgan Township and four others are located in Rensselaer.

A fourth generation farmer and new president of the Porter County Farm Bureau Inc., Bohling plants soybeans, corn and alfalfa hay.

“I’m kind of fortunate because we hit a window the last week of May and were able to bundle hay,” said Bohling, who no long raises dairy cattle, but sells his hay to another dairy farmer in Chesterton.

Crops planted in the low-lying portions of his Morgan Township farms are “hurt,” he said.

“The Rensselaer farms are a disaster. The corn and soybeans won’t amount to very much,” he said.

Farm fields throughout Jasper County remain underwater.

“A friend who has a farm in Rensselaer said the water came up out of the ditches. The water on his farm came into the barn. Farmers always build their houses and farms on the highest portion of the land,” Bohling said.

However, Bohling said his son, Bill Jr., is faring even worse. Bill Jr. and his father-in-law, Vernon Shaffer, farm 3,600 acres in LaCrosse in LaPorte County. The soil there is sandy loam which drains much quicker than clay, Bohling Sr. said.

“Vernon told me it’s never been wetter. He’s been farming since 1972,” he said. “There are 1,200 acres of seed corn that the seed company will abandon, and they’ve lost 400 acres of beans.”

That farm “is a total loss,” Bohling Sr. said. “They are losing over $1.5 million this year.”


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