Wet spring, heavy June rains flood fields, devastate Indiana farmers’ crops

Wet spring, heavy June rains flood fields, devastate Indiana farmers’ crops
The tractor in the standing water is the only indication you’re not looking at a pond, but farmland. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

VALLONIA, In. (WAVE) - “It’s going to be rough," farmer Dave Hall said.

With much of his farmland around Washington and Jackson Counties either un-planted from the spring rain or underwater from the June downpours, this growing season is proving a challenge for many farmers.

"It affects a huge chunk of the farmers here in the county," Hall said.

Fields that would normally be planted this time of the year sit empty and unused. Many acres around the counties are underwater, flooded out in part by heavy rains and water overflowing from the Muscatatuck and East Fork White rivers.

The weather these past few months has left farmers unsure for the future.

“Every decision, we feel like we’re making the wrong decision,” farmer Cam Shoemaker explained.

Heavy rains in June have left huge acreages totally underwater and drowned the crops.
Heavy rains in June have left huge acreages totally underwater and drowned the crops. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

It’s Cam’s first full year working full-time in the fields with his family and so far, it’s been a rough one. The wet spring brought big delays in what planting farmers around the state could get in.

“It seems like we worked twice as hard to get half as much done,” farmer Bruce Shoemaker said.

This time of the year, corn should be about shoulder height, soybeans about shin level. Right now, most plants are just starting to poke their heads out of the soil. But the real issue in Jackson and Washington comes from all the heavy rain they’ve seen in June, leaving huge acreages totally underwater and drowning the crops.

“What’s strange is to see a field to our left here that’s not planted that normally would be that you can’t do anything with. And it’s frustrating,” Bruce said.

June rains turn fields into lakes, filling up acres belonging to Hall and his neighbors. Hall’s tractor in the standing water is the only indication you’re not looking at a pond, but farmland.

Crop insurance will cover part of the flooding issues on the farms but not all of it.
Crop insurance will cover part of the flooding issues on the farms but not all of it. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Crop insurance will cover part of it, but not everything.

“It’s a good thing, if you have insurance to be able to farm again next year," Hall said. “But you still have an entire year to eat. If you don’t get anything planted, you don’t harvest anything. So it’s going to be rough.”

On the Shoemaker farm of 2,500 acres, Cam estimates maybe half of that is planted. It’s too late now to plant anymore corn. Soybeans are possible if the water goes down.

"We're going to try to do beans probably until July 6, just see what we can get into the ground because we have some ground that's not insured because it never floods. And now it's flooding," Cam said.

Farmer Cam Shoemaker estimates half of his family's 2,500 acre farm is planted - but it's too late for corn.
Farmer Cam Shoemaker estimates half of his family's 2,500 acre farm is planted - but it's too late for corn. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The rain isn’t just a problem in southern Indiana; it’s causing issues statewide. Only 84 percent of Indiana’s corn and 64 percent of soybeans are planted. Both crops are normally at 100 percent this time of the year. It’s an issue with a wide impact.

“It’s going to affect a lot of different people in a lot of different markets and a lot of food prices will probably be reflective of that in the coming months,” farmer Matt Shoemaker said.

Farmers worry for their harvest. More rain could be devastating.

“Every day is a gamble,” Bruce said.

With high water hanging around, there’s not much to do but watch and wait.

“Really, you just kind of hope and wait for another year, try to make the best of what you got and pray for those that are worse off than you are,” Matt said.

Keeley Stingel with the Washington County Council released the following statement in regards to the issues:

“Like many other communities, Washington County has been hit hard with excess rainfall. Our farmers have had to plant late in the season and now face an additional delay while bracing for more rain, expected this weekend. Flooding also puts our residents at risk with impassable roadways and potential property damage. Despite the flooding, Washington County is continuing to celebrate the community at the county 4-H fair this week, and is grateful for the many farmers and members of the community who are making the event possible.”
Keeley Stingel, Washington County Council At-Large

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