It's March and the madness has begun. I am not talking basketball excitement but rather the anticipation that the 2013 planting season will soon be upon us. Yes, it is the season for producers to become excited with each raindrop that falls, the warming of the soil, the smell of precipitation in the air and the ground beginning to thaw. This week, we are going to talk forecasting for the Montgomery County, Indiana grain crop producers. In the past week we have had some funky weather that has had some of us eager to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather we had on Sunday followed by chilling cold thirties temperatures on Monday and rainfall on Tuesday. One never knows how to dress at this time of year. And it is most important for producers to know where their soils stand for moisture and temperature in order to plan their planting season. So what is your anticipated planting date for your crops this year? Let's take a look shall we?

This week's average precipitation and 30 day total seasonal accumulation for the major towns in Montgomery County is as follows: Alamo 0.44 inches average with 3.22 inches total accumulation, Crawfordsville 0.46 inches average with 3.19 inches total accumulation, Darlington 0.50 inches average with 3.11 inches total accumulation, Ladoga 0.50 inches average with 2.68 inches total accumulation, Linden 0.49 inches average with 3.04 inches total accumulation, New Market 0.44 inches average with 2.90 inches total accumulation, New Richmond 0.54 inches average with 3.17 inches total, accumulation New Ross 0.52 inches average with 2.83 inches total accumulation, Waveland 0.37 inches with 2.80 inches total accumulation, Waynetown 0.44 inches average with 3.00 inches total accumulation, and Wingate 0.49 inches average with 2.97 total accumulation.

Average temperature for the Montgomery County area for the week is 32.5 degrees with the past 30 day temperature extremes of high of 55 degrees and low of 9 degrees. Our weather is ever so unpredictable and a producer's yield is affected by temperature extremes in some manner from late freezes to droughts. Since we are now officially out of the drought of 2012, yes we just entered that category in February, we can now take a look at what to expect for this year's planting season. For corn and soybeans, the expected time frame for a freeze risk less than 10 percent falls between April 1 (10 percent chance) to April 29 (0 percent chance) with initial planting dates of April 5 - April 10 for corn and April 20 to April 24 for soybeans and a possible optimum planting date for both crops of April 22 which marks the beginning of the 0 percent chance of late Spring freeze.

I am currently monitoring 15 locations throughout Montgomery County totaling 2,895 acres. Soil types in these monitored areas include Silt Loam, Silty Clay Loam and Loamy Sand. With the variety of soil types we have in this county, it is imperative to monitor the crop conditions for each soil type and relaying the possible climate impact on crops in our county. Throughout the 2013 growing season I will be monitoring these locations for precipitation, soil moisture, growth stages and heat units as well as the potential weather impact on corn and soybeans. I anticipate monthly collaboration with our area co-ops to evaluate field conditions as well as disease and insect monitoring. This will be my first full growing season with the producers in Montgomery County and I look forward to embarking on the upcoming planting season along with our producers in anticipation that 2013 will bring bountiful yields for our county. If any producer would like to add their particular fields to the monitoring system to aid in evaluating Montgomery County grain crops, please feel free to call my office. Monitoring of specific fields is limited and will be on a first come first serve basis.

Rhonda Walker is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator for Purdue Cooperative Extension Services - Montgomery County located at 400 Parke Ave. Rhonda can be reached by phone at 364-6363 or via email at