Climate Shifts Could Hurt Indiana Corn

Jun 14, 2018

A new study predicts the U.S. could lose nearly half of its corn by the end of the century due to climate. That could have detrimental effects in Indiana, the country’s fifth largest corn-producing state. 

Corn production in Indiana has been increasing for decades, largely because of advances in genetics. Still, Indiana stands to lose up to 30 percent of its corn yield by the 22nd century. That’s according to Laura Bowling, a professor in Purdue University’s agronomy department.

She’s part of a team of researchers looking into how the climate will affect Indiana’s agriculture. Bowling says, unlike some parts of the country, the corn belt will likely have more issues with flooding and drought.

“We have issues of excess water in the spring and drying in the fall, but this seasonality has the potential to become more pronounced with future climate change,” she says.

Nick Goeser of the National Corn Growers Association works with Indiana farmers as part of the Soil Health Partnership. He says, to combat things like flooding and drought, farmers need healthy soil that can hold more moisture and won’t wash away.

“This is through adoption of practices like cover crops and no-till agriculture,” he says.

Warmer temperatures can also cause heat stress in corn plants and allow more pests to survive in shorter winters.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.