The Times Board of Economists

Indiana's 'rare' location leads to ideal growing conditions

2013-07-21T00:00:00Z 2013-12-18T16:23:24Z Indiana's 'rare' location leads to ideal growing conditionsVanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

To some parts of the country, corn belt states are known as flyover states. As people jet from coast to coast, the land below looks like swaths of brown, gold and green.

What others see as undeveloped property, farmers see as the most fertile real estate for growing. 

"We put seed in this cold ground and walk away from it and expect it to multiply, and it does," said Porter County farmer Tim Stoner.

Indiana, which falls in the eastern corn belt, has prime conditions for cultivating, said Stoner, who sits on The Times Board of Economists.

"We live in a very rare part in the planet, just enough rain and heat to raise good corn and soybeans." he said.

Droughts are a threat, but more so out west, Stoner said.

Despite Indiana's ideal conditions, agriculture is still loaded with risks, because it relies on variable conditions like sun, rain and temperatures. Crop yields can be stunted or wiped out by drought, frost or floods.

Indiana is home to more than 60,000 farms, helping the state earn the status of eighth-leading agricultural exporter in the nation, according to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

The state is the fifth-leading corn producer in the nation, according to the group Farmers Feed Us.

Although heavy rain delayed some efforts this season, local farmers are expected to profit, Stoner said.

Purdue University in West Lafayette issued a news release Wednesday, stating an abundance of rain that led to delayed planting, combined with humidity, created conditions ideal for the spread of three diseases in young crops.

"Many fields across Indiana are currently at a younger growth stage than normal due to delayed planting and, therefore, may be at greater risk for yield loss due to disease development," said Kiersten Wise, a Purdue Extension plant pathologist.

Gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and Goss's wilt have been detected in some Indiana crops and could lead to reduced yields at harvest time, according to Wise.

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