Despite wet spring, mild summer, area crops have issues

News-DemocratSeptember 3, 2013 

This week, despite a good start to the growing year, crop watchers from around the state in the Illinois Farm Bureau's newspaper, "FarmWeek," are sounding the call for rain as they watch their crops dry up.

They also are worried about what the lack of rain is doing to yields, although some experts believe things won't be too bad.

Robert Bellm, University of Illinois Extension educator for commercial agriculture, said a quick rain might help some. Unfortunately the forecast looks dry for a while.

"Much of the corn is far enough along that a rain now wouldn't make much difference," he said. "For corn planted later, rain might help."

He said the number of kernels on each ear are set but lack of moisture might cause the ear to abort some of those kernels, resulting in lost yield. Kernels also might test low in weight without more moisture.

He said to expect a lot of variability in yields and a much later harvest than last year due to later planting.

Despite a wet spring and mild summer, soybeans also could hold a mildly unpleasant outcome.

"Cool weather tends to reduce pod set a bit," he said. "But I don't think there is any disaster in the making. Things will just vary from field to field."

The question will be what the average yields are for corn and soybeans, said Dave Biever, a Freeburg area farmer.

"I think there's going to be some dandy corn out there," he said. "There will be some lousy corn as well. From highway farming (driving down the road and looking) you can see bare spots from late planting. The late drought hasn't helped either."

Belleville area farmer Greg Guenther said, as usual, it will be an interesting year for farmers. In fact, it already has been. He has a few firsts for this year, he said.

"The corn stalks are as tall as I've ever seen them," he said.

He was scouting one cornfield and out in the middle noticed he wasn't seeing any ears.

"I was wondering what happened to the ears and then looked up and they were growing a good seven feet above the ground."

Normally the corn would be putting on ears four to five feet up.

He also said this spring was the worst planting season he had ever experienced in his farming career with the worst erosion from the heavy, prolonged rains in April and May.

But still, Guenther expects decent crops in this area despite the stressed-looking corn, which is a result of the plants sacrificing leaves and stalks to send its energy to the ears.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com

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