The farmers at Tom Farms in northern Indiana have a pretty good idea about growing conditions in that part of the state in 2012. The operation is based in Kosciusco County and handles 18,000 acres that spans an additional six counties. Given the moisture deficits this year, Kip Tom calls it a tough year.
“If we look at the 20 different rain stations that we collect data from, from April 1st to August 30th we averaged a little over 9 inches of rain. Typically we usually see 15-18 inches of rain in that time frame if we look at our averages. So yields were impacted.”
Tom expects to finish harvest this week and yields will be off by about 30 percent. Not good, but better than previous years of drought.
“If I would go back to some similar drought years like 1974 we’ve seen a much larger impact with 70-80 percent reductions, so let’s face it, technologies, biotechnology, the seeds and genetics we have today, some of that advanced agronomic solutions that we’re using today to operate our farm, help us weather the storm a little. Mother Nature still holds the trump card but we’re doing the best we can to pull levers to increase yields.”
Tom Farms irrigates about half of its acres, but 2012 presented a real challenge for those units to keep up with the level of moisture needed.
“We had some units we started the 20th of May and never shut off until the end of August. You know in Indiana and a lot of the Midwest, when we design an irrigation system we design it to get a little supplemental rainfall along the way. This summer we were dealing with Tucson, Arizona type weather and it was just very difficult to keep up.”
Tom also has about 4,000 acres in Argentina where planting season is nearing the end. But he confirms it is wet there.
“We’re very wet and have been that way for about 3 weeks now,” he told HAT. “There is some corn going in the ground and a few people getting beans in the ground. Everybody is a little concerned about some of the disease issues in the wheat with this much moisture right now. But typically we plant corn in September-October. In years like this farmers down there are starting to back off a little bit and plant in November and December, so I guess it’s not too late to plant corn. They can still get some in and get good yields, but yet it is wet.”
Tom was with the nation’s farm broadcasters last week in Kansas City promoting the annual AgConnect Expo. It is scheduled for late January in KC but will be held in Indianapolis in 2015.