WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Farmers have taken advantage of dry days and warming temperatures to catch up to a higher level of planting. In fact, progress for both corn and soybean planting now is above the five-year average in Indiana.

While the number of acres planted has increased, there is a mixed bag of results across the state. Because of excessive rain causing flooding, some farmers still are struggling to get seed in the ground, which is especially true in southern Indiana.

“We’re in pretty good shape on a statewide basis,” said Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist. “Reports from the USDA indicated that statewide we were 86 percent done with corn.”

Nielsen noted that the numbers vary greatly between northern, central and southern regions of Indiana. The southern third of the state only has 59 percent of corn planted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Central Indiana has 88 percent in the ground. And the northern third of the state is nearly finished planting corn, with 97 percent in the ground as of the week ending May 26.

“Some of the guys in the southern third are still struggling to finish up planting corn,” Nielsen said.

“I’d guess if they continue to be late, they may consider shifting to soybean acres. That remains to be seen.

“Soybeans are also delayed at this point. Statewide, only 60 percent is done, so there’s still a fair amount of soybeans to be planted.”

Although the number varies from field to field, the state still is exceeding five-year planting averages.

“With corn, we are ahead of the five-year average of 77 percent, but behind last year, which was 99 percent,” said Greg Matli, Indiana state statistician for the NASS. “This year, we are well ahead of 2009, when only about 62 percent of the corn crop had been planted at this same time.”

Matli said that the record early corn planting was in 2001, when 100 percent of the corn crop had been planted by May 20. On the other hand, the record late corn planting season was in 1996, when only 84 percent of corn had been planted by June 20.

Soybean planting is 60-percent complete, ahead of the five-year average of 49 percent complete, but also behind last year’s rates.

Matli said that the record yield for soybeans was 51.5 bushels per acres in 2004. The planting conditions that year were good, but it was not a record early planting.

“In the past three weeks, we’ve planted more than three-quarters of the corn,” Nielsen said. “With today’s larger field equipment, when we do get good working days, we can make a lot of progress. The big issue is getting those good working days. We continue to get rain systems that delay us a few days every week, and it continues to slow progress.”

Nielsen said that the fields he’s seen in northern Indiana are looking good in terms of how the plants are emerging. In areas where crops have been planted, he said, they are doing well.

“If or when we get these douses of rain that cause standing water in the fields, that’s going to take its toll,” he noted. “It’s unclear how many fields have been severely damaged by rainfall. But when all of us think to the drought, we are thankful for the rain, even if it’s a bit excessive. The alternative of last year isn’t anything we want to visit again.”

Whether replanting is necessary in flooded fields remains to be seen. Nielsen reported that it depends on the severity of the situation.

“Where there’s been enough rain to cause serious damage, something will need to be done,” he said. “It may mean replanting corn. The determining factor is mostly related to whether you’ve already got corn herbicides applied. If you do, it forces you back into corn. Again, it’ll be a mix of results in that regard and on a field-by-field basis.”

Nielsen advised farmers to keep a close watch on fields as they finish planting this season. He suggested farmers walk through their fields, look for problems and identify those problems as they find them.