Pulaski County, and areas just west to the state line, were fortunate to receive rainfall amounts totaling over an inch. Only the northwest quarter of the state received much rain at all Saturday, and most of that was less than a half-inch. (See National Weather Service precipitation map from Sunday here).
Earlier in the week the latest information from the U.S. Drought Monitor placed Pulaski County under a designation of "moderate drought," according to this news release:
Drought, dry weather affect 88 percent of state
WEST LAFAYETTE - Drought conditions around Indiana took a turn for the worse with 88 percent of the state now affected by ongoing dry weather, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor (click here) released Thursday (June 14).
The Drought Monitor, a service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is updated weekly and reflected conditions as of Tuesday (June 12). Total Indiana land area affected by drought jumped 40 percent since the last Drought Monitor was released last week. Only a cluster of 11 counties in southeast Indiana, about 12 percent of the state, are not affected. Moderate drought has spread to cover about three-fourths of northern Indiana while most of central Indiana is considered abnormally dry. Five counties in southwestern Indiana are rated in severe drought.
The high-pressure system that has dominated the Midwest in recent weeks has prevented weather changes - including fronts bringing much-needed rain - from moving into the area, according to the Indiana State Climate Office (http://iclimate.org/index.asp) based at Purdue University. The next possibility for showers is sometime late next week, but state climatologist Dev Niyogi said soil is losing moisture at a rate faster than it can be replaced.
"We should not fall into false security if we get rain," Niyogi said. "Every passing day we are losing more moisture from the soil because of the growing crops. It will take time, conservation and much-needed rains to reverse."
More soybeans around the state are showing signs of stress, said Purdue Extension agronomist Shaun Casteel. "I'm seeing more plants flipping leaves over to reflect the sun," he said. "These plants can probably recover without too much damage if we get rain."
In areas of severe drought, leaves have started clamping down, meaning plants are going into survival mode.
Some fields have become islands where some plants have emerged and others haven't, Casteel said. "Late-planted beans in dry soil might still emerge with rainfall. However, if the seed has cracked open and the root emerged it could become a worst-case scenario."
After several weeks with little or no rain, the condition of the state's corn crop runs the gamut, said Purdue Extension agronomist Bob Nielsen.
Several areas of the state are under severe stress and, early in the growing season, Nielsen said there's already concern about the impact it will have on yield. Other areas around the state are not exhibiting drought symptoms.
"If we begin to get rain, the corn crop won't recover completely, but it will be better than we thought," Nielsen said.
More moderate temperatures since Memorial Day have helped, Nielsen said, but a return to hotter weather and continued drought could tip the scales.
"We're tip-toeing on the edge of something serious," he said. "Right now, it's wait-and-see; it could go either way."
Nielsen said the corn crop under the most stress is consistent with areas of severest drought in the U.S. Drought Monitor, including counties in southwestern, north central and northeastern Indiana.
Writer: Olivia Maddox, Purdue University News Service
Continued dry weather takes its toll on Indiana forage crops
WEST LAFAYETTE - Indiana's forage crop yields are down and won't likely improve without decent rainfall in the near future, prompting a need for growers to take precautions to avoid further crop loss, says a Purdue Extension forage specialist.
Forages initially were damaged during hard freezes in April and have struggled to yield amid the unrelenting hot, dry weather of May and June.
"Many producers have reported to me that their first cutting was reduced fairly substantially as compared with other years - down by 25 percent or more," Keith Johnson said. "So we're starting out in a deficit in terms of total-season hay production possibilities. Then we couple that with the dry weather and the next harvest doesn't look to be super high-yielding either."
The April freezes damaged alfalfa tillers and, as a result, not only was the first cutting reduced, but if harvested prematurely the crop could have been lacking in carbohydrate reserves needed for the next crop to regrow. Harvesting second and subsequent cuttings before the plants have time to rebuild vigor could cause stands to suffer into the future.
Johnson recommended waiting until just after late bud or on into some flowering before harvesting alfalfa.
"If we've harvested relatively early a couple of times, we really have put some stress on that plant," he said. "We probably should give it an opportunity to get beyond late bud and maybe into some flowering to give us more days to put carbohydrates into the reserves in the crown and taproot. Then there should be enough vigor for regrowth."
In addition to delaying harvest a bit, Johnson also said now is a good time to look at soil fertility. Soil tests can reveal any nutrient deficiencies and help producers know which fertilizers need to be applied.
But Johnson cautioned producers against applying nitrogen in hay and grass-dominant pastures until there is enough moisture.
"I think we have to recognize at this point moisture is the yield-limiting need," he said. "I would hold off on nitrogen fertilizer application until we return to the more timely and sufficient rains we need for grass production to occur."
The lack of rain also has created conditions that exaggerate potato leafhopper damage. The insect feeds on alfalfa and many other plants. During feeding, it injects the crops with toxins that stunt growth and limit yield.
Johnson encouraged growers to scout for the potato leafhopper with a sweep net intended for this pest. Insecticide treatments could be warranted when the average number of potato leafhopper in a single sweep of the net is 0.1 leafhoppers per inch of alfalfa height.
For example, an alfalfa crop 10 inches tall would need more than one leafhopper per sweep to warrant control. Those insecticides, however, also kill beneficial insects.
A better option, Johnson said, is for growers to plant a leafhopper-resistant variety the next time they seed the field.
Finally, growers need to pay attention to harvest dates to avoid harvesting forage crops too late in the season.
"If enough stresses occur, growers really need to be aware of when they harvest the last crop," Johnson said. "Traditionally, for those in the northern part of the state, somewhere around Sept. 5 should be the last growing-season harvest. For those in southern Indiana, we probably can stretch that to around Sept. 15.
"This allows enough time to build those carbohydrate reserves before a killing freeze comes along, so we have a plant with a full tank of energy through the course of winter. And then, as we break dormancy the following year, enough reserves are there for a vigorous break winter dormancy crop."
Writer: Jennifer Stewart, Purdue University News Service
FRANCESVILLE - The 45th annual commencement exercises at West Central High School will be at 2 p.m., Sunday (May 26), in the school gymnasium. The program will begin with a baccalaureate service with the address given by Don Nedza, followed by the graduation program.
Forty-nine seniors will receive diplomas. Commencement addresses will be given by valedictorian David Putt and salutatorian Evan Kaeb.
WINAMAC - Commencement exercises at Winamac Community High School will be at 7 p.m., Friday (May 31), in the school gymnasium. The program will include the tradition of awarding several community scholarships.
The Class of 2013 numbers 87 seniors, and will be led down the aisle by valedictorian Kathleen Budd and salutatorian Andrew Brandon.
LOGANSPORT - Civic Players of Logansport will present "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," directed by David Quigney, on two weekends in June.
The five performances are at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 14; and at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 15. The show will also be staged on the following weekend at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday (June 21-22).
Pulaski County's unemployment rate fell to 6.1. percent in April, down from 7.7 percent (revised) in March, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development reported Friday (May 17). The rate was 6.4 percent a year ago.
The state's April rate dipped to 8.5 percent (seasonally adjusted), from 8.7 percent in March. The April 2012 rate was 8.3 percent. The U.S. rate improved to 7.5 percent (seasonally adjusted), down from March's 7.6 revised rate. A year ago, the national rate was 8.1 percent.
WINAMAC - Winamac Community High School will hold its Senior Awards Night at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 28, in the socialtorium. The public is welcome to attend.
Seniors will receive special recognition in the form of academic competition awards, honor roll, scholarship awards and special academic and athletic awards. Representatives from various colleges, local organizations and the school will present these awards.
INDIANAPOLIS -Private landowners looking to improve wildlife habitat on their property may qualify for financial assistance through the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, particularly if they want to benefit bobwhite quail and ring-neck pheasants.
Bobwhite quail and ring-neck pheasant are prized game birds. However, populations of both have suffered from permanent habitat loss or lack of maintenance on existing habitat.
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday (May 9) that will expand the state’s school voucher program in front of 150 students, including some who already are benefiting from the program.
Students from seven different private vouchers schools met at the Calvary Christian School auditorium with signs that said, “I yearn to learn” and “school choice now.”
INDIANAPOLIS – The organization that regulates high school sports will decide next week whether to let some homeschooled students participate in high school athletics.
The move by the Indiana High School Athletic Association comes two years after the issue bubbled up at the Indiana General Assembly, where lawmakers considered but never passed a bill to mandate the change.
INDIANAPOLIS - Each year, the Indiana Department of Education recognizes schools that perform in the upper 25th percentile of schools in performance on ISTEP+ and ECA state exams, as well their rating determined by the national No Child Left Behind statute's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
Among the schools designated for this honor as Four Star Schools for 2011-12 were Eastern Pualski Elementary School and West Central High School in Pulaski County.
WEST LAFAYETTE - Warm, sunny days during the week ending Ma;y 20 allowed farmers to make good progress planting both corn and soybeans, according to the Indiana Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Once again, the most acreage was planted across northern and some central counties. Soils remained too wet across the southern districts to allow much progress to be made.
WINAMAC - Eastern Pulaski Community School Board president Mike Tetzloff outlined the search timeline to hire a new school superintendent at the board's monthly meeting Monday (May 13).
Applications for the position will be accepted until May 28. Interviews will be completed by June 29, and the new superintendent will be named in early July; however, he/she will not be officially placed until the end of July after a public meeting.
INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence Thursday vetoed House Enrolled Act 1546, concerning unauthorized collection of local option income tax in Jackson and Pulaski counties after legal authority for those tax collections had expired.
The Pulaski County Democrats Central Committee has reorganized for the 2013 year. New officers elected were: county chair Bill Reutebuch; county vice chair, Laura Bailey; secretary, Diana Dutton and treasurer, Jenise Barnhouse.
Long time secretary, Betty Podell, and treasurer, Betty Parcel, have retired from their positions after nearly 40 years each.
INDIANAPOLIS - Citing her broad background in facilitating job creation in rural and agribusiness communities, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Gina Sheets announced Tuesday (May 14) the appointment of Connie Neininger as ISDA director of Economic Development & Trade.
INDIANAPOLIS - Nearly 60 Pulaski County residents crossed the finish line in the running of the 37th annual One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, Saturday (May 4), in downtown Indianapolis. A field of 35,000 participated in the event.
Mike Haschel of Winamac led county runners, finishing with a time of 1:19:20 and a 59th place finish overall. He was followed by Glenn Bailey who completed the Mini in a time of 1:27:07.