Dry weather costing Michiana farmers

Weeks of dry weather across the Midwest are starting to dry up some farmers’ wallets.

Because of unseasonably warm temperatures during the spring, many planted crops several weeks early in April.

Now farmers are worried about how their corn and soybeans will survive the summer.

“I never remember in my lifetime the grass being as brown as it is this time of the season,” said Leesburg farmer Robert Bishop.

The hot sun and cloudless skies have slowly been sucking the color and life out of some of Bishop’s crops.

He farms around 5,000 acres in Kosciusko County – one of the Indiana counties in a moderate drought. While much of his corn and soybeans are doing OK, Bishop says there is cause for concern.

“They’re suffering some and some of the corn is starting to look like cigars, where it rolls up tight,” he said.

It’s a site that concerns many Northern Indiana farmers who are doing everything they can to prevent their crops from losing a battle with Mother Nature.

Richard Schmidt farms about 900 acres in Madison Township, where the soil is richer. His crops are doing a bit better than Bishop’s, but still desperately need water.

“The requirement of a corn plant is approximately two-tenths of an inch everyday,” Schmidt said. “So either it has to come from rainfall or in storage in the ground.”

Problem is, there isn’t much left in the ground.

So, to help compensate, farmers who can are irrigating their fields on hot summer days. But it’s quickly starting to add up.

“Last year we had to irrigate in July and August a little bit,” Bishop said. “But this year, we started irrigating in May, which is unusually early.”

Bishop and Schmidt are hoping to see some return on investment once harvest time rolls around.

But if the dry heat continues, it could be a bad season.

“I've been doing this for quite a while and I've seen good years and I've seen bad years,” Bishop said. “The good Lord above still has control.”

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