Chloe Johnson, Minneapolis Star Tribune; Erin Jordan, The Gazette; and Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star

Corn was just starting to tassel across much of the Midwest, including fields in southern Indiana, a golden crown signaling the end of the season. But while most farmers were preparing for harvest, Ray McCormick was climbing back into his tractor to re-plant his soybeans.

The southwest Indiana farmer had to redrill soybeans in August last year after two heavy rains on his river-bottom field wiped out a spring-planted corn crop and a July soybean crop.

“My dad used to say that after July 10, ‘You’re kidding yourself trying to plant,’” said McCormick, who was trying to produce a crop for the landlords who own these fields.

McCormick’s delayed planting is one example of how a changing climate — and the rains that come with it – are transforming farm country in the Mississippi River watershed.

HOW DO WE RESPOND? Extreme rainfall and historic floods are transforming life in the vast Mississippi River basin

A hotter atmosphere is causing rain to fall in harder bursts, pushing back planting seasons and drowning crops. At the same time as human-driven climate change is juicing precipitation, Corn Belt farming practices such as installing underground drainage tiles and leaving fields bare after harvest are changing how water moves across the landscape and into waterways.

That runoff eventually makes its way south, carrying sediment as well as pollution that contributes to the hypoxic, or oxygen-free, “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

“There is no part of the water cycle we haven’t altered,” said Carrie Jennings, research and policy director with the Minnesota nonprofit advocacy group Freshwater.

In Minnesota, flows in the Mississippi River rose 24% in seven decades, according to a 2016 report. Flows have doubled in the Minnesota River, which carries sediment and pollution from the state’s southern farm country into the Mississippi, according to a 2017 study from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.