State climatologists are predicting Indiana may experience drought conditions this summer, and that could have an impact on local farmers.
Spring conditions have so far been relatively good for planting and early growing. That may change later this summer as scientists track a La Niña pattern. Typically, drought conditions are experienced in the Midwest as the climate pattern develops.
Purdue Extension Agricultural Educator Phil Woolery says there’s still time for crops to recover.
“The more critical time it’s going to affect yields would be later in the summer.,” says Woolery. “For corn, starting in July, dry weather could bring down yields. Soybeans, there’s a little more time for recovery, they can recover from dry spells. But we need to have some timely rains like we had this week. If we keep getting those than we should do okay.”
Corn currently needs about half an inch of water per week. As the stalk grows those water needs grow to more than 1.5-inches.
Farmers may use their irrigation resources as the season progresses. In the near term, there’s little else that can be done. Woolery says that over the years, farmers may want to consider implementing more organic material into their soils to combat the poor moisture retaining sandy soils in Northern Indiana.
For now, corn is showing drought stress with some fields reporting curled leaves. Woolery says climatologists don’t know whether drought conditions will have a large effect this summer.
“They’re looking at average yields,” says Woolery. “So average over the past. In the past, it tends to have dry weather in the summer if there’s a La Niña, but local weather patterns could vary.”
The state climate office expects the second half of June to be drier than normal.
Northern Indiana experienced drought conditions in the latter part of summer in 2015, but also experienced heavy rainfall in June that brought emergency declarations and financial support for local farmers.