WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Warming weather and spring showers have come to Indiana, and farmers now are playing the waiting game of when to plant their crops.

Last year, Hoosier farmers were in the fields earlier than normal, enjoying a warm and favorable spring. Seventy percent of corn already had been planted in Indiana by April 29, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

This year, the scene is very different, and farmers must plan accordingly.

“It’s absolutely fair to say compared to a year ago we are much more delayed in our field planting due to more frequent rainfall,” said Bob Nielsen, Purdue University professor of agronomy and Purdue Extension corn specialist.

“And compared to long-term averages, we are probably behind normal due to rain and wet soils.”

He said the ideal time to start planting begins on April 15 and goes through early May, but that is dependent on if the soils are right and the weather is favorable.

Farmers aren’t behind yet, but if wet and cool conditions continue, it is a possibility.

“It’s a matter of waiting on Mother Nature and waiting until the time is right to begin,” Nielsen said.

A farmer’s perspective on this year’s planting season showed similar insight.

“We have not planted anything yet,” lamented Trevor Glick, a soybean, corn, wheat and cattle farmer from Warsaw. “Soil temperatures have been very cool for us, so we haven’t been very anxious to start planting. The moisture has eliminated any chances of planting.”

Glick also mentioned that he was completely finished by this time last year.

“In terms of how late farmers can plant and get a fair soybean yield, it will vary by region and growing season,” said Shaun Casteel, Purdue Extension soybean specialist and assistant professor of agronomy. “We have plenty of time to set the stage for good yields with the ideal times between late April and mid-May.”

He offered a few pieces of advice to soybean growers.

“For soybeans, there’s a couple things to think about this year,” he said. “This planting season we’re going to have beans that are larger than normal, around 2,000 instead of 3,000 seeds per pound. If the planting settings are the same as last year, you might be planting a totally different seed rate now. Last year was a small to average-size seed, and this year is average to big.”

He also noted that there are seed lots where germination potential may be lower than anticipated. A normal germination score is 90 percent, but some scores may be in the 80-percent to 85-percent range.

Casteel said he’s seen some of that already.

“Another scenario is where lower seed quality or vigor will impact the emergence rate of soybeans,” he said.

“If we have seed lots that have lower quality being planted in the current or upcoming conditions, emergence rates and plant stands will certainly be poor. If you have those kinds of seed lots, plant them later in warmer soils rather than first.”

For those with concerns about how the drought last year affected soil this spring, now there’s no need to worry, according to Nielsen.

He said there’s no longer a sense of panic concerning the drought from last summer in terms of soil moisture.

“We don’t expect to see those kinds of droughts repeat themselves very often,” he said. “Agronomically speaking, it’s not a good thing to plan for a drought because we wouldn’t expect to see another major drought like that occur.

“Hopefully, folks haven’t made significant changes to planting because of it. Stick to the tried and true agronomic practices that have worked for years and years.”