How the weather and spring planting scenario will play out when the
frost flies still is a matter for speculation, but weather-beleaguered
Hoosier farmers are running out of time to plant corn and they are getting
close on soybeans. Equally as speculative is the scenario on the effects
of the wet spring and the troubled planting season on wildlife. But one
thing is certain, the unusual monsoon season in Indiana has wrought hardships
on Hoosier farmers and the end results could impact in many ways on wildlife
As of June 3, the planting of corn in Indiana stood at about 75 percent
complete, according to the Agricultural Statistics Service of the US Department
of Agriculture at Purdue University. Ralph Gann, Indiana statistician for
the agency, said at that time last year the corn was 100 percent in the
ground and that the five-year average is 95 percent.
The figures for soybean planting on that date was 45 percent complete,
compared to 98 percent last year, and 89 percent for the five-year average.
Monday morning, as updated figures on both corn and bean planting were
being prepared, Gann said the week of June 3 offered a fairly good
opportunity for field work. For this reason, the corn-bean planting picture
probably will look somewhat better.
Still, he said, most farmers planting corn that has 110 to 115-day maturity
cycle, or 90-day cycle, probably will not plant corn after this week. He
said, however, that there are seeds that offer shorter maturity cycles,
but they are not real popular.
Farmers not getting corn planted probably will go to soybeans, Gann
said, adding that the maturity cycle of beans would make it possible to
plant for another two weeks or a little longer. There also are sorghum
and some other grains available, Gann said, but added that they are not
popular because they can pose marketing problems.
In an ordinary year corn covers some 5.7 million acres of Indiana and
beans roughly 5.5 million acres.
The big problem area for corn and soybean planting, appears to be in
the southeastern part of the state, Gann says, pointing out that corn planting
in that part of the state was 61 percent complete on June 3, and that the
planting of beans was 23 percent complete.
So how do the vagaries of spring planting of farmers impact wildlife
and hunting. The answer is simple: many ways.
Water, or a surplus thereof, can affect the reproductive cycle of wild
birds and animals in the same ways it affects farmers who are trying to
produce crops of grain. Ed Theroff, state research supervisor for the Division
of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), says it probably is too early to determine
the effects of the wet spring on wild birds and animals.
Theroff says, however, that ruffed grouse and wild turkey nest through
the rain-filled period the state has experienced, adding that there is
some concern for those species. But it still is too early to tell, he says.
As for quail and pheasant, they nest a little later, he says, and a
dryer summer could keep that production on track even though both species
have been spotty in the last few years.
Brood counts later in the summer will tell us more about quail and pheasants,
Theroff says, adding that rabbits must also be considered even though they
reproduce throughout the warm months and into the fall.
Jim Mitchell, deer biologist for the DFW, does not expect adverse weather
impacts on deer, although a variation of the corn crop picture could make
hunting somewhat different, especially during the bow season which opens
October 1, and the urban areas which open for bow September 15.
Mitchell says, however, that in 1996, the last year we had an extremely
wet spring, deer were affected by an outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic
Disorder (EHD, blue tongue), and that several hundred, or more than 1,000
deer, may have died in the southern part of the state. But it did not impact
heavily on the deer herd state wide.
In the final analysis, both crop and wildlife pictures will be
more clear in the weeks to come.