What is that smell? Central Indiana firefighters receive calls about rotting radishes

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MUNCIE, Ind. — Hoosiers are noticing an unpleasant smell in some rural communities across central Indiana, and fire departments are getting calls about it.

Joe Hamilton and his family harvest over 2,000 acres in Delaware County. They were not able to grow corn on 400 acres of it this year because there was too much rain this spring.

So, his family planted cover crops, including daikon radishes, on the land instead. Radishes help release nutrients back into the soil, so nothing goes to waste. It helps prevent erosion and competes with weeds so farmers can use less herbicide.

“What happened this year, the radishes froze at the first hard frost and then we had warm weather, so they are decaying very rapidly,” said Hamilton.

They now have 400 acres of decaying, rotting radishes. The smell is not pleasant for neighbors. It smells like rotten eggs or natural gas.

Hamilton said his family has been farming in Delaware County for 70 years. This is the first time they have had to plant radishes.

He said he has been hearing about farmers from Vincennes to Fort Wayne doing the same thing this season.

Firefighters in Whitestown said they received several 911 calls about this mysterious smell.

“This is the first time in my memory in the past 10 years I can remember us having calls due to the radishes,” said Cpt. Levi Kendall.

People think they are smelling natural gas and get concerned.

“If you are smelling something that shouldn’t be there that has not been there in the past, it is always better to be safe,” said Kendall.

It is a gross and smelly cost Hamilton hopes will eventually pay off. He said the soil will be ready and healthier for cash crops next year. He thinks the smell could stick around until March.

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