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8th wettest July rescues some N. Ind. corn fields

Associated Press Published: August 2, 2012

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — In the desolate landscape that Indiana has become, there's an oasis of green. Rain suddenly started falling two weeks ago in northern Indiana, turning what had been an arid summer into South Bend's eighth wettest July on record and salvaging some corn fields.

While the rain was too late for most traditional farms, it was right on time for some "muck" farmers who grow crops on what used to be marshlands. Muck farmers plant later and harvest later — sometimes as late as Thanksgiving — so the precipitation dovetailed with the corn crop's pollination.

"We benefitted a lot from this rain," said Joe Burkus, manager of the Martin Blads Farm in South Bend. "It was very, very beneficial."

He said the corn crop on the 3,000- acre muck farm was just developing ears when the rain began to fall on July 14. The National Weather Service reported that after no measurable rain through the first 13 days of July, South Bend received 6.48 inches of rain — 2.48 inches above normal. Two storms each dropped more than two inches.

The rest of the state wasn't as fortunate. Five cities combined— Terre Haute (0.59 inches), Indianapolis (0.83 inches), Lafayette (0.91), Bloomington (1.46) and Muncie (1.94) — had less rain than South Bend.

Indiana's drought is deepening. The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows that the area of the state in exceptional drought, the worst category, grew from a little less than a fifth of the state to almost a quarter of the state. That parched area runs from near Terre Haute to Indianapolis and then south to the Ohio River about 30 miles east of Evansville.

Fifty-nine percent of the state is in extreme drought, the second worst category. Nearly 85 percent of the state, which includes the extreme drought section, is listed as being severe drought.

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