sealPurdue Ag Briefs

March 1997

Indiana farmers produce more than state residents can eat

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Indiana is 38th in size among states and has 2 percent of the U.S. population, but the state's farmers produce 8.5 percent of the nation's total soybeans and 7.2 percent of the total corn for grain.

Last year, according to the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service, the state's farmers ranked fourth nationally in soybean production, raising nearly 204 million bushels. Soybeans are used in everything from soy sauce to plastic to soy diesel fuel to soy crayons.

More than 670 million bushels of corn for grain were produced last year, giving Indiana producers the No. 5 ranking in that crop.

In 1995, crops accounted for 65 percent, or $3.2 billion, of the $5 billion in cash receipts earned by Indiana producers from farm marketings. Livestock marketed in 1995 brought in the remaining 35 percent, or $1.8 billion. Five commodity groups accounted for 81 percent of the 1995 cash receipts. They were, in order, corn, soybeans, hogs, dairy products and cattle. The state ranks 14th in farm income.

While Indiana farmers grow a lot of the nation's corn and soybeans, they also rank in the top 10 nationwide for production of several other commodities. In an average year, the state ranks No. 1 in popcorn production, raising a quarter of the U.S. total. Unfavorable weather the past two years reduced the number of acres planted, but yield per acre was up from 2,400 pounds in 1995 to 3,000 pounds in 1996. Price per pound also was up -- 2.4 cents above the '95 price -- increasing the crop's value from $16.3 million in 1995 to $23 million in 1996.

Inclement weather also reduced the 1996 mint crop, dropping Indiana from third to fifth in spearmint production, with 2,200 acres harvested. The state maintained fourth place in peppermint production, with 22,000 acres harvested. Hoosier mint producers raise 6.3 percent of the nation's peppermint and 2.9 percent of its spearmint. An average of 27 pounds of peppermint oil and 28 pounds of spearmint oil are produced from an acre. It takes about two drops to flavor a stick of gum.

Vegetable and fruit production also are important to the Indiana agricultural industry. The state ranks third raising tomatoes for processing, seventh in snap beans for processing, seventh in blueberries, and ninth in cucumbers for processing. Indiana melon growers rank sixth in watermelon production, growing 4.7 percent of the nation's total, and fifth in cantaloupe production, raising 2.7 percent of that crop. Tobacco is another top crop in Indiana; the state ranks ninth in its production.

The Hoosier state is home to the top duck producer in the United States, as well. Maple Leaf Farms in Milford turns out about 35 percent of the nation's ducks annually. The state's total chicken inventory ranks fifth, as does its layer inventory. Indiana provided 6.6 percent of chickens and 6.7 percent of layers nationwide in 1996. Turkey production ranked seventh in '96, with 4.6 percent of the U.S. total. Egg production is 7.4 percent of the U.S. total, placing Indiana in the No. 3 spot for that commodity. Indiana chickens provide 5.7 billion eggs per year -- 985 eggs per state resident or 22 eggs per U.S. resident.

Marketing more than 7 million hogs each year, Indiana ranks fifth in the United States in total hog inventory with 6.7 percent of the U.S. total. The pig crop also ranks fifth, with nearly 6.3 million produced.

The average producer who helps to raise Indiana's cornucopia of commodities is 51 and a half years old. More than 80 percent of Indiana's farm operators live on the farm they operate, and more than 51 percent do not consider farming their principal occupation.

Nearly 16 million of Indiana's 23.2 million acres are in farmland, ranking it 19th in farm acreage among states. It's 13th in number of farms, with 60,000. Eighty-five percent of the state's farming operations are individually owned, 11 percent are partnerships, and 4 percent are incorporated. The average size of the state's farms is 265 acres.

For more information on Indiana's ag statistics, check out the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service's World Wide Web page at

CONTACT: Ralph Gann, Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service, (765) 494-8371

Purdue serves up cornucopia of corn information

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- It's everything you ever wanted to know about corn but didn't think anyone knew.

The "Corn Growers Guidebook," a virtual book on the World Wide Web (, was created by Purdue University's top expert on the plant and the crop's biggest fan, Robert L. Nielsen. He designed it to offer every imaginable fact about corn -- or link to other Web sites that pick up where it leaves off.

The Guidebook is split into five "chapters" -- Timely Tips, Management Tips, Corny Experts, Other Corny Sites, and Corny Curiosities -- all containing information aimed at corn growers in Indiana and the rest of the Eastern Corn Belt. Each chapter leads readers to a multitude of other corn-related Web sites that address all aspects of raising corn from preparing the soil to marketing the grain. Topics include fertilization; planting; plant development; harvesting; storing; fighting plant diseases and insect pests; and deciding how long to store the grain before selling.

The Other Corny Sites chapter, for example, contains links to 15 other Web sites such as the Corn Information page maintained by North Carolina State University, the Corn Refiners' Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, and Extension corn publications by Ohio State University.

Nielsen, a Purdue Cooperative Extension Service agronomist, says he'd like the Guidebook to be a "one-stop shop" for on-line farmers to visit when they have questions about corn.

"It's not meant to be only a Purdue collection of information," he says. "I have tried to collect as many Web documents from colleagues at neighboring institutions as I could find by surfing the Web, and I've sent out e-mail asking colleagues directly for URLs of links that I've missed."

Nielsen will continue to update links and their corresponding documents to keep the Guidebook current. "A Web site like the Guidebook has a tremendous opportunity to pool the information and knowledge that is available from all the state Extension corn specialists in the region and -- maybe more importantly -- our colleagues from other disciplines such as entomology and plant pathology," Nielsen says.

CONTACT: Nielsen is on sabbatical this semester, but he can be reached at his home at (765) 743-2973 or via e-mail:

Soil-borne soybean diseases thriving, expert says

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- As soybean growers prepare for the 1997 planting season, they should check field notes from last year and bone up on ways to identify soil-borne diseases this summer, says Purdue University plant pathologist Don Scott.

"Yield losses in soybeans come from something you don't see -- from root damage," Scott says. "And early detection is the key."

Farmers who note disease invasions in a bean field should plan to plant resistant varieties, if possible, and should carefully plan crop rotations in subsequent years, he says. Their planting options are increasing as seed companies develop more and more resistant varieties, he says.

Soil-borne soy diseases that are on the rise in Indiana include soybean cyst nematode, new races of Phytophthora root rot, Pythium seedling blight, brown stem rot, white mold, sudden death syndrome and charcoal rot, Scott says.

"The disease organisms are slowly increasing in fields, especially in fields where corn-soybean-corn-soybean rotations have been used for several years," Scott says.

Root-damaging disease organisms can survive for several years in soil, Scott says. This is especially true of soybean cyst nematode (SCN), the state's biggest soy-stealing problem.

"The cysts of the soybean cyst nematode can survive in soils anywhere from three to 17 years. The nematode populations slowly build up until you finally see a significant problem," Scott says.

"I can remember 40 or 50 years ago when rotations included corn, soybeans, wheat, and two years in alfalfa -- back when most farms combined livestock and row crops," Scott says. "The longer rotations helped keep many of these disease organisms at relatively low levels." By 1995, he says, about 70 percent of field rotations switched back and forth between only two crops: corn and soybeans. And 77 percent of fields had switched to reduced tillage.

"Economics dictated the changes," Scott says.

Economics is also driving farmers to take note of risks presented by pests and disease. Because government programs have removed some safeguards against crop loss, producers are looking harder for ways to manage their risks. Noting disease problems and planting resistant varieties is one way.

CONTACT: Scott, (765) 494-4627; e-mail,

Diet could be key to controlling hog odors

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University animal waste expert is working to help swine producers take the stink out of community relations.

Purdue animal scientist Alan Sutton has been looking at a method that may help reduce odor at the initial source -- the hog -- and would benefit both small and large producers. Sutton has been testing various modifications in swine diets in order to reduce odor and the potential for water pollution, while maintaining the animals' feed efficiency.

The study identified the predominant compounds that cause odor in manure, most of which are ammonia, sulfide compounds from amino acid digestion and volatile organic compounds. The researcher went on to evaluate changes in the odor-causing substances as a result of four diets: deficient protein diet; standard protein diet; amino acid balanced diet; and excess protein diet.

Based on initial results, reducing the crude protein level of the pig's diet and supplementing with essential amino acids reduced nitrogen excretion by 20 percent to 42 percent and dropped ammonia concentrations by 25 percent to 42 percent. Direct measurement of aerial ammonia over anaerobically stored manure showed up to a 64 percent reduction in odor-causing compounds. Not only is odor controlled, the diet also limits the amount of some compounds that could affect water quality.

Sutton was co-chairman of a Council for Agricultural Science and Technology task force report on Integrated Animal Waste Management. The report raises concerns that smaller hog farmers will be unable to afford or unwilling to invest in odor-control technologies that do not add to farm profitability. Still, he says he believes that all hog farms will have to get a handle on odor control, citing an increase in the number of odor-related lawsuits and public objections to opening new facilities and expanding existing ones.

"Odor is size-neutral," Sutton says. "It won't matter if you're a factory farm or a family operation if you can't keep the smell away from your neighbors."

CONTACT: Sutton, e-mail only,

Compiled by Chris Sigurdson, (765) 494-8415; E-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page