Indiana Farmers Weigh Impact of Flooding

September 23, 2008

Northwestern Indiana farmers are weighing their crop losses after recent floods that for some farmers was the second wave of flooding they’ve endured this year.

Farmer Bill Peterson Sr. said heavy rains in June flooded 400 of the 1,000 acres of corn he farms south of Lowell and just north of the Kankakee River. He replanted in soybeans, but last weekend’s flooding wiped out those soybeans.

“In all my 50 years of farming I can’t remember being drowned out twice in one year,” Peterson said.

He is among the unlucky farmers in Lake and Porter counties whose incomes will suffer because of last weekend’s deluge, which was delivered by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

Like Peterson, who farms land along the old Grand Kankakee Marsh, most of the hard-hit farmers raise crops in lowland areas.

Soybean growers have more to lose during floods because corn is already topped out and their ears are well above the ground, while soybeans sit close to the ground.

Vegetable crops like tomatoes were also affected by the floodwaters, too.

Vegetables, including the tomatoes still in the region’s fields, pumpkins and green beans “are pretty much a total loss,” said Bill Moran, district conservationist for Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Some are going to try to harvest anyhow and salvage what they can,” said Moran, who keeps tabs on farming issues in Lake and Porter counties.

Moran said soybeans in both counties should see a 15 percent loss.

“You can combine dirty soybeans, and don’t lose any money but you can’t do that with vegetable crops,” Moran said.

Stan Sims, agriculture extension educator for the Lake County Cooperative Extension Service said the flooding was expected to result in about a 5 percent loss of crops overall in Lake County.

“When you’re looking at 65,000 acres of soybeans, that’s a lot,” he said. “I don’t think we could call it devastating overall, but it is for some guys in the location they’re in.”

Source: Post-Tribune.

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